There is a debate that is as controversial as police officers holding a degree and that is whether the law enforcement career is a profession or craft. Although, the classification of police work as a craft, trade, or a profession was the subject of intense controversy, there appeared to be little doubt that the trend toward professionalization was exerting a powerful impact on the field of law enforcement. Many officers argue that policing is a craft that you must have passion for and academies are irrelevant to learning police work. In order, to become a good officer one must gain experience and knowledge on the job. Then you have others who say that policing is a profession with education a central feature. They believe that one must have an education where you learn the essential skills and knowledge in a classroom setting and you do not have to learn the “job” from experience. Essentially, you acquire the skills needed then put forth what you have learned once you get on the job. The arguments for both are compelling. However, I believe you must have both. You must have skills and knowledge and familiarity with your chosen career. Once, you are hired on or start your job you can then apply the skills and also have more of hands on experience. There IS a middle ground.
Even the best classroom training is unlikely to fully prepare a police recruit. Not every kind of situation can be stimulated in training nor can every nuance of police response be duplicated. Further, some of the skills that officers might apply , especially creative communication skills, cannot be readily taught in brief classroom sessions. Crafts are traditionally learned by way of training whereas professional preparation primarily involves formal classroom training. Once professionals have mastered their body of knowledge, their work is pretty straight forward with application of that knowledge. Craftsmen, however, must always adapt their skills to the materials and situations...
References: Kennedy, D. B., & Homant, R. J. (1988). Police and Law Enforcement (Vol. 5). N.p.: AMS Press.
White, M. D. (2007). Current Issues and Controversies in Policing (pp. 34-66). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
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