Financial Returns For High Education
When I think about law enforcement, I picture an ideal department in which they select officers that hold at least a two-year degree and the peace officers standards training certificate (POST). Studies from research in recent years show that education seems to be a cornerstone to a better police officer in regards to strong work ethics and a better decision-making process. So I pose this question: will a higher education benefit police officers and their departments? This paper will discuss the benefits of why education matters in law enforcement, and if the degree even matters to agencies across America, what a four year degree costs, and if it is worth the risks to obtain the education. The requirement to become an officer will vary from agency to agency and state to state, but all officers have to generally be at least 21 years of age and successfully complete (POST). An individual can apply for a job without a POST certificate, and often times the agency will sponsor the newly hired individual through the academy. POST teaches future officers the constitution and general laws within the state. POST also creates a foundation of occupational knowledge. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics website, “More than a third (36%) of agencies targeted applicants who possessed prior law enforcement experience for sworn positions, including about half of agencies employing 100 or more officers. Smaller percentages of agencies targeted applicants who were military veterans (17%), multilingual (16%), or 4-year College graduates (14%)” (Reaves, 2012). One study supported this by stating, “College education instills a degree of professionalism and maturity that is needed and valued at higher organizational levels” (Donald N. Tuxillo, 1998). The article also advises that education gives, “greater ability to analyze situations, to exercise discretion independently, and to make judicious decisions” (Victor E Kappeler, 1992). This is a very important skill to have since discretion is something that officers use on a regular basis. “College educated Officers tend to have better peer relationships, strong moral character that reflects a sense of conscience and the qualities of honesty, reliability, and tolerance, than non-college-educated officers” Another study had a different spin on the benefits of having educated officers in their department. This was from the Journal of Police Science & Administration. In this study it advises there are correlations between higher education and, “fewer injuries, disciplinary actions from accidents, preventable accidents, and sick days used per year” (Cascio, 1977). All of these types of incidents can cost the department money for insurance, overtime to cover shifts for injuries that are sustained and public relations with the community.
In an interview with Cedar City human resource manager Natasha Hirschi, she stated that this agency was looking for a well-rounded applicant and she did not show a preference for either an educated or an experienced officer. Mrs. Hirschi said, “Ultimately if it came down to choosing the best candidate, the chief would look at personalities that best match the agency.”
I recently had a conversation with Professor Dempsey and he stated, “The job growth is exponential across American departments, and agencies are projected to hire 40,000 to 60,000 new entry-level police officers this year.” Utah had a 2010 estimated job growth of 4,860, and experts’ project that by 2020 there will be 5,000 more jobs for entry level law enforcement amongst state and local departments. Also, it is safe to say that these estimated numbers probably include some lateral transfers, but for operational terms, the department will be hiring a new person for their agency. “Employment of police and detectives is expected to grow 10 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Population growth is the main...
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