Measuring Professionalism of Police Officers

For the past several decades, there have been efforts to increase the education requirements for law enforcement officers. Newspaper, magazine, and journal articles cite numerous studies whose findings sup-port the notion that better educated police officers are better performers. Increasingly, departments are requiring applicants to have completed a certain number of college credit hours or even earned two- or four-year college degrees.1

Researchers, practitioners, commissions, and even police agencies themselves have been calling for increased education requirements for police officers for many reasons. Some point out that police work has become increasingly complex and, as a result, education requirements for police officers should be increased.2 Others suggest that better educated police officers will be “more rounded thinkers and exhibit a greater humanistic bent.”3

The authors have informally asked sworn members of all ranks at three different police agencies their opinion regarding the level of education that should be required for entry-level police officers. As expected, their opinions vary and often reflect their own level of education or their rank. Of those who are proponents of college-education requirements for law enforcement officers, many said that requiring college education results in a more professional police force.