Philadelphia ending college requirement for police recruits

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2016 2:41 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Police Department is moving to end a requirement that recruits have at least two years of college credits under their belt — a shift the new commissioner says is needed to alleviate hiring woes.

Commissioner Richard Ross said he believes college is good for new hires but could be scaring off potential recruits. The department has about 6,100 sworn officers, about 400 short of its ideal number.

At the same time, Ross has pushed to raise the age requirement from 19 to 22. Both changes were approved April 20 by the city's Civil Service Commission.

The city Administrative Board is expected to weigh in Friday, and, if approved, the changes will go into effect 30 days later. Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney, a member of the board, supports the changes and said college credits don't necessarily indicate whether a recruit is ready for the police force.

"It's not clear that college credits are an indicator of a candidate's preparedness to serve," Kenney said in a statement. "At the same time, raising the age to 22 will help to ensure that our officers have had time to sufficiently mature for this very serious responsibility."

Roughly 10 percent of local departments nationwide require recruits to have two years of college credits and fewer require a four-year degree, said Willian Terrill, a criminologist at Arizona State University. In a 2015 study, Terrill and a co-author found that college-educated officers are more dissatisfied but less likely to be abusive to citizens.

"An officer with a college education has a better grip on having empathy for the people he is serving," Terrill told The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1SJoN7I). "Education really helps with that."

Recruits need college credit or a military record in New York City, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. College or military experience isn't required in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami-Dade and Detroit.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com