Police departments relaxing recruitment qualifications

  • Nearly 80% of law-enforcement agencies reported issues recruiting qualified candidates
  • Solutions include a 32-hour workweek, signing bonuses, and waived college credits
  • But, an expert says, "There are things we should not lower our standards for"

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — Police departments nationwide are struggling to recruit new officers, especially as more agencies have reported upticks in resignations and retirements.

In New York City, it’s not unusual to see ads on the subway promoting a signing bonus for joining the force.

Across major American cities, new strategies and relaxed entry requirements are being implemented. Some say it helps gain new recruits, while others believe it will weaken police forces.

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 78% of agencies reported issues recruiting qualified candidates, and about 50% of agencies have changed their internal policies in order to gain additional qualified candidates.

About 25% of law-enforcement agencies said they eliminated services, units or positions altogether due to an inability to staff their departments adequately.

Now, departments are coming up with new ways to appeal to recruits.

The city of Golden, Colorado, is shifting to a 32-hour workweek, while still promising they will maintain the same number of officers patrolling the streets.

“Thirty-two-hour work week, where pay, benefits, things of that nature do not change,” said Sgt. Ben Salentine of the Golden Police Department. “That gives each one of our employees that extra time to spend how they want. Do they want to use an extra eight hours a week to go to the gym? Go for it. Spend it with your family? Go for it. That (is) recreation time that really allows us to really be our best selves for the community.”

The Golden Police Department is expected to start the four-day workweek program on a six-month trial. City officials believe the change will improve employee retention, engagement and the well-being of their officers.

Other cities such as New Orleans and Chicago have waived college credit requirements for some recruits.

In other states including Massachusetts, departments have eliminated the sit-up test due to the number of recruits failing to meet the requirement, preventing them from joining the force.

But not all current officers are pleased with these changes, especially after recent events like the death of Tyre Nichols.

Nichols was beaten and killed by officers following a traffic stop. The Memphis Police Department blamed the incident on inexperience and a lack of training.

Members of the Memphis police force voiced their concerns that students who would previously have been dismissed due to failures at the shooting range were given more chances.

Law enforcement expert Jerry Rodriguez explained that there have been many efforts to recruit new officers that have been effective, such as including hiring bonuses. However, he said our nation’s police departments should not lower their standards for hiring new recruits.

“I’m afraid that if we forget our history, we are bound to repeat it,” Rodriguez said. “What I mean by that is, there are things we should not lower our standards for, that may show up later on in the form of personnel complaints, misconduct and criminal activity by officers.”

Morning In America

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