Congratulations to our 2018 Fall Scholarship Winner, Aaron Boykin!
Police brutality is a subject that tops the headlines quite often. What do you think police officers and law enforcement can do/what sort of tool or invention can you think of, which would keep police officers safe without lessening their ability to do their jobs, while also not infringing on citizens rights?
Police officers are important to the public and personal safety just as doctors and nurses are. Police brutality is a crippling social problem that can lead to further violence and bloodshed amongst political party lines, ethnic and racial lines, and socioeconomic lines. There are three tools cities and police departments can use that could improve the trust between officers and the public and provided personalized de-escalation techniques – education, certification/continuing education, elected police accountability board. I believe that these tools can improve officer accountability and promote safety for everyone.
I believe that all police officers should have a college degree at the bachelor’s level. I would make an exception for those who are in the military that opts for an Associate degree; however, eventually, those officers as well to have Bachelor degrees as well. They must take classes pertaining to social classes, injustices, and various ethnic and racial groups. The degrees can vary between law, criminal justice, psychology, and etcetera. The reason why these subjects are important is due to the fact that victims of police brutality are members of low socio-economic areas where distrust between the police and public tend to be higher than those of mid to higher income communities. A study in 2003 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about 80 % of all U.S. police agencies require a high school diploma, but less than 10% require some college credit. Sadly, only 1 % of police agencies require a four-year college degree (Hudgins, 2014). Today the figures are much higher, but, nonetheless, all police agencies should have officers with college degrees.
According to CareerTrend.com, to work as a police officer, individuals must complete a comprehensive examination to earn state certification (Penn, 2017). This is not enough. Doctors and nurses have to maintain their certification and submit evidence of continuing education units to their respective state medical and nursing board. Police officers should do the same. These units should comprise of conflict resolution, de-escalation training, cultural competence, etcetera. They should be submitted to the state board of police and updated every few years. Furthermore, there needs to be a non-partisan, non-profiting organizational body that certifies police officers. It should be conducted by a national body and not by municipality or state. Just as future nurses need to take and pass an exam to become a registered nurse, there needs to be an exam that is universal across the nation for police officers.
There should be an elected police accountability board that is voted by the people just like the rest of the government. The board should review any suspected cases of police misconduct by the police department and from complaining citizens. The board should investigate all claims thoroughly and publicly announce all recommendations. The purpose of the board will give power back to the public, and in return, the public can give respect and trust. Hopefully, police officers will be aware of their actions and approach each situation with an open mind, rather than a closed heart.
Hudgins, J. L. (2014, Sept 30). Require college degrees for police [Commentary]. Retrieved from The Baltimore Sun: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-police-degrees-20140930-story.htmlPenn, S. (2017, September 27). WHAT KIND OR LICENSES OR CERTIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED TO BECOME A POLICE OFFICER? Retrieved from CareerTrends.com: https://careertrend.com/what-kind-or-licenses-or-certifications-do-you-need-to-become-a-police-officer-12596910.html