Police Director says recruit standards have been changed, not lowered - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Police Director says recruit standards have been changed, not lowered

A new year brings new rules for Memphis police recruits.  For the first time in years, new recruits joining the police department will not be required to have college experience.

Tuesday, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said standards for new officers have not been lowered.

"We didn't lower the standard.  We changed the requirement," he said.

Godwin said the department formerly required recruits to have two years of college, or an equivalent in active military service.

"There's no proof, no substantial proof across the country, that two years of college makes a better police officer," Godwin said.

Memphis is not the only city without a college requirement for police recruits.  Regionally, the cities of Nashville, Little Rock, Birmingham, and Atlanta have similar policies that do not require college experience.  Louisville, Kentucky requires 60 credit hours, or two years of college.

Godwin said the department's standards would remain tough.

"We want the best, and are still going to pick the best," he said.

According to Godwin, new recruits still must pass a rigorous 21 weeks of training at the police academy, during which they are able to earn college credit.

"Always keep in mind that we encourage and pay for college after you come on," he said.

Not everyone thinks scrapping the college requirement is a good thing.  According to critics, raising salaries and benefits would be a better way to attract new recruits.

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