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Police officers should carry law degrees

By Diamond Hunt
On February 26, 2014

How would you feel if you were in the midst of an argument and the other person couldn't back up his side with concrete facts? Think about it.

Police officers should be held responsible for knowing what laws they are representing and what they entail. By gaining a law degree, police officers would not have to rely solely on experience to gain the appropriate knowledge to enforce laws.

Some argue that they don't need a law degree to protect and serve their communities. However, wouldn't it make more sense if officers had some type of law training before they were active on the force? Wouldn't a degree in law reflect positively in their judgments? The answer to these questions is yes.

It is through continuous learning that human beings are able to make sound decisions. If police officers are required to recertify their shooting skills every so often and required to pass a psych exam to make sure that the job is not taking too big of a toll on them, then why is it that there is no requirement for them to brush up on their knowledge of the law?

Laws are created to fix problems that are at hand and to prevent future problems. However, they are continually changing.

If police officers are supposed to be upholders of the law, then why aren't they required to know why some are enforced or even created? Instead of just enforcing the law, police officers should be required to know why they are enforcing these laws and how they affect the communities that they work in.  

Although there is no definitive answer to how getting a law degree will benefit or hinder the performance of a police officer, it is definitive that by gaining a law a degree, the positive image that police officers have in the eyes of children will be heightened.

When you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, one of the most common answers is a police officer. As they begin to matriculate, these now young adults do their research and find out that, compared to other professions that are held on the same level as a police officer, the qualifications are fairly easy.

Most professions require between a four- and six-year degree. According to the Tallahassee Police Department, in order to be considered for the police academy, you must have at least a two-year degree, be 19 years of age and a U.S. citizen.

Of course there are other requirements. However, just these three requirements promote most college students to drop out and join the force instead of finishing with a four-year degree that will eventually help them to move up in the force.

By mandating an officer to get a law degree, it will not only work in the benefit of the officer, but it will also help with high school and college graduation rates. Students who wants to pursue a profession as a doctor, for example, know that they must not only attend college and finish, but they must do well while they are there. The same should go for police officers.

All in all, anyone can argue that a law degree isn't needed for police officers to keep criminals off the streets. That may be true, but when you look at the state of most police departments, they inadvertently promote taking the easy way out. They promote pushing issues to the side until they are too big to handle.

In no way am I saying that by obtaining a law degree police officers will stop doing what they've always done. I am saying their judgment will be positively affected. More importantly, by obtaining a higher degree, they will promote the completion of college, which will lead to a more productive society. Isn't that all we want for generations to come?


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