City Leaders Consider College Degree Requirement for MPD Officers
(Memphis) In light of recent high-profile cases where police officers have been accused of criminal activity, city leaders will be meeting Tuesday morning to discuss how to recruit better qualified people.
Two years ago, the criterion of at least two years of college or military service was reinstated for police officer candidates.
After several recent incidents, some council members are wondering whether a four-year degree should be required.
Councilman Jim Strickland will be asking people for feedback on that idea, as well as the idea of having more psychological evaluations and counseling throughout an officer’s career.
“[A college degree] may be a good idea, because it takes a certain level of maturity and persistence to get a college degree, and maybe that would be helpful,” Strickland said.
Michael Williams, the president of the Memphis Police Association, said that more education would be better.
“It also has to do with your ability to reason, your ability to make quick decisions, your ability to adapt, your ability to fight,” he said.
Williams also said that recruiting better people can be done with better salaries.
Strickland agrees with that.
“We don’t want the second-best police officers, we want the best. And money is an incentive for all of us,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said that the budget does not currently allow for the city to reinstate the 4.6 percent pay cut officers got.
Since 2009, there have been an average of 24 officers arrested each year for various crimes. So far in 2012, there have been 21 different officers arrested.
Some people in Memphis completely agree that a college degree may eliminate some of the problems.
“I think the qualifications should be raised, I think they need to shoot for better integrity of the police department and in law enforcement in general,” said Paul Ledbetter.
Others don’t think more education would prevent officers from getting in trouble.
“There are a lot of people out there with a lot of years of education who do a lot of unethical things. So I don’t think that would be something that would totally trump out you getting somebody that’s a bad apple,” said Shandon Allen.
The Tuesday morning committee meeting is meant to be a broad discussion of good ways to recruit the best. News Channel 3 will be there to find out what happens.