I would take one properly trained officer over 10 thugs any day. Yet while departments across the country are facing police shortages, the only thing they can think to do is cut the standards for hiring.
But with killings by officers forcing a public reckoning over whether the police deserve to be seen automatically as the good guys, departments in major cities are struggling to fill thousands of openings: 1,000 in Chicago, nearly 300 in Phoenix and 200 in Detroit. And with the additional mandate to become as diverse as the communities they serve, police departments are rethinking recruitment standards once considered sacrosanct.
New Orleans, with more than 400 openings, no longer automatically disqualifies those who have injected heroin or smoked crack. Aurora, Colo., has stopped using military-style running tests, but now checks how quickly candidates can get out of a squad car.
Police could stop arresting people for drug crimes, and focus on violent and property crimes if they wanted to get by with less personnel. They could even pull some officers off speed-trap duty and actually respond to desperate calls for help.
But no, the solution is to simply hire heroin addicts and crack heads. That will surely improve the tensions between the public and police. How could this go wrong, hiring even lower quality officers than before?
This is absurd. The whole problem of police abuse stems from a lack of proper training and the wrong people in the job. Now, just to fill their ranks, they are ridiculously relaxing their standards. This will only lead to more corruption, and police less fit to actually help when needed.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, where the police are seeking 970 officers, said in January that he had been rethinking a prohibition on those with juvenile records.
In Chicago, where police data shows African-Americans are stopped by the police far more often than whites, disqualifying applicants for minor or youthful offenses can exclude minority candidates at a time when the department is desperate to attract them.
And there is another feel-good worthless plan to help the situation: relax standards to fill the spots with enough minority police to make it seem like a department isn’t racist. Surely black cops could never shoot an innocent person, or abuse their authority. And if they have to hire those with a criminal record in order to hit their racial quotas, so be it.
All of the government’s solutions are just absurd, while they ignore the actual root of police abuse: that it is a government job. Government jobs do not have the same incentives for good behavior, and deterrents for corruption. Cops need to be fired for wrongdoing, not given a vacation.
And they need to be arrested when they victimize people from the communities they supposedly serve. They are individuals responsible for their actions, and allowing anyone to hide behind a government, uniform, or badge is a recipe for power abuse.
Instead of hiring people that are more likely to abuse the public, based on their past, the very first thing that would improve everything is to stop arresting people for victimless crimes.
Chuck Canterbury, president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, said there was concern about whether the changes would result in a generation of ill-prepared officers.
“People are talking about it, but there is such a recruiting and retention problem — they’re searching for ways to bring bodies in,” he said. “But I’m not sure reducing standards is the best way to do that.”
We don’t need more warm bodies on the streets starting conflicts, we need more detectives actually solving the large percentage of real crimes which go by the wayside in favor of making minor drug arrests.
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