Law Enforcement is in major trouble. Police work is getting worse, and the politicians are not helping.
I’ve often used the sarcastic phrase “They can’t be that stupid, can they?” when pointing out how our “leaders” screw up something simple. In the aftermath of George Floyd, Tyre Nichols, etc., some of the civilian overseers of law enforcement, and PWABs (Politicians With A Badge) are doing the exact wrong thing. Instead of maintaining or perhaps strengthening the standards for new police, they are lowering them.
What could go wrong?
I found this article in National Review last week, and it shows how, in the post George Floyd policing world, our “leaders” are doing the absolute worse things in reaction.
Ex-Cops Warn of Tyre Nichols Repeat as Police Departments Ditch Education, Honesty Standards
For years, Aurora residents have heard the allegations of violence and criminality by some members of the Colorado city’s police force: officers punching, choking, and threatening to shoot unarmed civilians; holding innocent people at gunpoint; stalking and sexually assaulting people…
…In 2019, Aurora became a national flashpoint after officers restrained and choked Elijah McClain because someone reported that the young black man “looked sketchy” while walking home from a convenience store. The 23-year-old died after medics injected him with a lethal dose of ketamine, a powerful sedative…
…An investigation by the state’s attorney general found Aurora officers engaged in a consistent pattern of illegal behavior, racially biased policing, and use of excessive force. The attorney general is now overseeing mandated reforms to the embattled department.
It was in this atmosphere that Aurora’s Civil Service Commission in December chose to rework its qualifications to be a police officer in the city…Rather than tighten the minimum qualifications to be a police officer in Aurora, the commission relaxed them.
…Aurora police candidates who have committed two or more misdemeanor crimes are no longer automatically disqualified from joining the force. They also won’t be automatically disqualified if they have a large number of driving offenses, or if they’ve recently had a DUI, had their driver’s license suspended, or used illegal drugs.
In Aurora, not even a history of “dishonesty and/or integrity issues,” or falsifying or making misleading or deceitful statements on a job application, is enough to automatically disqualify a candidate for a job as a police officer…
I can understand if a 28–30-year-old applicant got a DWI when he was 19 but is otherwise clean, the department can allow him in. I’m not sure what exactly “recently” means, but if officers will be enforcing laws they “recently” violated, there is an issue. And Aurora is not the only place this is happening.
…As interest in policing careers has plummeted — and as departments seek to open their doors to more females and minority officers — agencies nationwide are eliminating college requirements, lowering fitness standards, and relaxing policies around tattoos and past drug use to bolster their recruiting numbers…
In recent years, police departments in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Ky., Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Ore., have all lowered or relaxed requirements that recruits have at least some college credits before joining the force. The New York Police Department recently scrapped a timed mile-and-a-half run to help more women qualify for the force, and because, as training chief Juanita Holmes told the New York Post, “no cop on patrol runs a mile and a half. No one’s chasing anyone a mile and a half.”
Ms. Holmes, it shows an overall minimum level of fitness you should expect out of your police recruits. And being in New York City, you have a lot of officers working foot patrol. They need to have strong legs and endurance, and they are running with over 30 pounds of gear on them.
Something we need to remember, you want mature people in law enforcement That is why most states set the minimum age for being a peace officer at 21, and many departments have a requirement of something after high school, be it college, active military or a combination of both. A point I made to my rookies as a field training instructor and evaluator, one of the major requirements is being assertive. You must be the man in charge on screwed up scenes (shootings, accidents, natural deaths, etc.), and if you’re not, if you cannot handle a scene, there is an issue.
Many late teenagers simply are not ready for that, and need experience and maturing before they can be a cop. The military allows 18-year-olds to be law enforcement, but it’s more controlled, (i.e., they almost always have a senior partner, they must draw their weapons at roll call, military courtesy always is required). Back to Memphis and the Nichols incident.
On January 10…five officers beat Tyre Nichols to death in Memphis, Tenn. Two of those officers were hired after department leaders, desperate for recruits, pumped up signing bonuses, sought waivers for candidates with criminal records, and phased out requirements that recruits have either college credits, military service, or previous policing experience…
“They would allow just pretty much anybody to be a police officer,” Alvin Davis, a retired Memphis police recruiting lieutenant, told the Associated Press. “They’re not ready for it…”
…The New Orleans Police Department dropped its requirement that recruits have at least 60 hours of college credit in 2015, just four years after the college-credit policy was put in place. To increase application numbers and to increase diversity, the Philadelphia Police Department scrapped its college requirement in 2016…
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey defended the college requirement.
“I think we do a disservice to young people by having them go through school thinking they can get good-paying jobs without at least looking at some level of college work,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I also think it’s an embarrassment to think that you have to lower the standards…”
… Jeff Hynes, a former Phoenix police commander involved in hiring and training, said that lowering police education standards is a “recipe for disaster.” Hynes, who now teaches in the Justice Studies program at Glenndale Community College in Arizona, said better-educated police officers tend to have broader worldviews, and more maturity and cultural awareness.
Research over the last couple of decades has found that college-educated police officers are significantly less likely to use force on the job, are less likely to fire their weapons in the line of duty, assault citizens, or lose their jobs due to misconduct, and they get fewer citizen complaints.
“Education and standards make better cops, period,” said Hynes, who added that he doesn’t care what a prospective recruit’s college degree is in.
Gentlemen, I couldn’t agree with you more. The overwhelming majority of 18-year-olds are not ready for the responsibly of law enforcement. They need maturity and a broadening of knowledge and experience, such as employment in things other than flipping hamburgers. Those two give you the insight to handle policing well.
A classic example of hiring someone who had no business with a badge is Antoinette Frank. In the early 1990s, the New Orleans Police Department were hiring anyone with a pulse. In spite of that, Ms. Frank was not hired initially as she failed the phycological exam. Frank hired a second psychiatrist who gave a different “opinion,” and she was hired in February 1993. Frank was soon dating a known drug dealer, Rogers Lacaze. In March 1995, she and Lacaze robbed a Vietnamese restaurant Frank worked security at. In the process, Lacaze murdered Officer Ronald Williams, and Frank shot two of the family members robbing them. According the investigation, Frank believed Officer Williams’ was shortchanging her on hours and pay at the restaurant, and wanted revenge.
After Frank was convicted and sentenced to death, she became the top suspect in the murder of her father, Adam Frank. Yes, desperate for recruits, the New Orleans Police unintentionally allowed a psychopath to have a badge and gun.
The profession of law enforcement is going through a very tough time. We’ve had a few high visibility incidents handled, if not criminally, very poorly. We have an openly hostile president and attorney general wanting to federalize, i.e., destroy local law enforcement. The politicians in multiple large cities and states (New York, California, Illinois) are threatening cops if they are assertive and do their jobs. The officers on the street now are not going out to enforce the law, and the young people you want in the profession are looking elsewhere.
Right now law enforcement is in trouble and the politicians, in uniform and out, at best are not helping, more often making it worse.
Yes, our political leaders are that stupid.
Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years’ service, and over ten year’s experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker, PoliceOne.com, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.
Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers.
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