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State of Police Education; Policy Direction for the 21st Century

NCJ Number
D L Carter; A D Sapp; D W Stephens
Date Published
199 pages
This study assessed the recommendations of various national commissions on higher education for police, developed a profile of current practice, and examined related policy issues facing law enforcement administrators.
Data were collected via a content analysis of the literature, a survey of 699 State, County, and municipal law enforcement agencies, nationwide; and site visits to selected police departments. The literature suggests that college educated officers are better communicators, more flexible and adaptive, and perform better. National commissions have recommended that police agencies should require some college education for appointment for promotion as a matter of formal policy. Survey results indicate that the current educational level among officers was 13.6 years for men and 14.6 for women. Of agencies, 61.1 percent had at least one formal policy supporting higher education for sworn officers; and 58.2 percent required that coursework be job related. Only 13.7 percent of agencies had a formal requirement for some college for entry into police service, but the majority gave preference to applicants with some college credit. While 75.2 percent had no formal policy requiring college credit for promotion, 82 percent recognized college education as important in promotion decisions. The majority of agencies directed recruitment efforts at both college students and the general public. Police academy curricula have a 50-50 mix of academic and skills curricula. The advantages of college education perceived by agencies were similar to those cited in the literature. Site visits indicate that educational requirements can be effectively implemented and that agencies should offer support and incentives for higher education. Policy implications are discussed. Comments are appended. 7 figures, 16 tables, and approximately 180 references.