Education and the use of force in America

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By Devin Malone

There is no denying the importance of education, as it helps shape our minds, personalities, and futures. This is why most jobs that hold a high position of power require higher education. Yet this seems to be ignored when it comes to law enforcement, as the minimum education requirements are insultingly low.

According to an article by Discover Policing, in most states, the minimum education requirement to become an officer is a GED or another high school degree equivalent. In stark contrast, the Berlin School of Economics and Law requires a six semester bachelor’s program in Applied Sciences to become a German officer.

American officers take anywhere from six months to just 21 weeks of training, whereas the majority of the German and Dutch police force require two to five years.

This is a disturbing revelation since the United States, has such a low standard for training. The required basic training consists of physical training, memorization, written tests, etc. Afterwards, trainees are then sent off into the streets with live firearms.

A clear difference between the American and European law enforcement system is police-related deaths. In 2015 alone, The Washington Post reported that police-related deaths in America reached up to 991, whereas Germany and the Netherlands combined only reached 105 between 1996 and 2006. These acts of violence can often be associated to the officer’s use of force.

Criminologist William Terrill of Michigan State University surveyed 2,901 cops in metropolitan areas across the country and discovered that cops with college degrees are less likely to use normal or deadly force.

Despite this evidence, we send these inexperienced men out into the field and trust them with keeping the peace with only six months of training. This is just one of many signs that points to the inevitable fact that our ill-educated officers are maladjusted to their position of authority, and our standards for acceptance must be raised in order to stop such abhorrent acts of deadly violence.

This point is further backed up as Cody W. Telep from George Mason University claims that police with a higher education are better adjusted to difficult social situations. Officers with a bachelor degree had significantly more desirable attitudes across all three methods of measurement.

However, Terrill states that the police force does not make it easy for new recruits who have a degree.

“We’re throwing the least experienced officers into the most difficult situations simply because of their lack of seniority. It’s like taking someone right out of medical school and asking them to perform heart surgery,” Terrill said, according to Michigan State University Today.

Ultimately, we are sending police officers out too early, and expecting them to do too much with the minimal education they receive. With this limited training, they are supposed to maintain calm in some of the toughest social situations and deadly circumstances in the country, all the while keeping order in the country. Our officers need our help just as much as we need them.

In order for America to better itself and regain its trust in the police force, it is obvious that higher education and more rigorous training must be required. On the other hand, people of higher education should be further encouraged and consider joining the police force. Through this, we can hope to forge a brighter and safer future for America.

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Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper

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