Shortage of officers leads to lower educational requirements - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shortage of officers leads to lower educational requirements

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Faced with a shortage of police officers, Memphis is no longer requiring recruits to have at least two years of college credits.

The city has long dealt with a shortage of commissioned officers, with its police force hovering at around 2,000 officers for several years. More than 100 new officers were added this year but officials say 400 more will be needed over the next five years. 

By doing away with the college requirement, police directors hope to attract more applicants, including experienced officers from smaller departments.

"The big fence was the college requirement," said department spokesman Sgt. Vincent Higgins. "And we're knocking down that wall."

Nashville did away with a two-year college requirement for police officers in 2005, and neither Knoxville nor Chattanooga has such a requirement.

"Just because a person has a college education doesn't mean they are going to make a good cop," said Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin. "And just because you don't have a college degree doesn't mean you're not going to be a good cop."

Police recruiters look at a variety of factors in accepting recruits into their training academies.

"We value a college education. We also value military experience. And we value life experience," said Kristin Mumford, a spokeswoman for Nashville police. "We added other requirements to broaden the pool."

The International Association of Chiefs of Police says it has no definitive studies showing general college credit makes police officers better at their jobs.

"Some departments are having a terrible time recruiting," said Kim Kohlhepp, testing manager for the association. "Some departments are getting plenty of recruits, but they are not getting the diversity."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Powered by Frankly