Should Law Enforcement Be Required to Obtain a Degree?

Allison Johnson
Blog Content Contributor

Families are hurting from the result of unethical deadly force by police officers. Some police officers turn to this way of handling a situation due to their ignorance. Wives are left without their husbands, and children are left fatherless at an extremely young age. In college, people can escape their small towns and the opinions of social demographics their parents or peers may have embedded into their minds. I cannot stand that people pretend to be oblivious to the fact that some officers are indeed racist. It boils down to the stereotypes they have known all their lives and their lack of exposure.

Exposure is what you gain in college. In college, we are exposed to people from all races, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. If you are a traditional college student, you are leaving home for four years to mature, and let experiences shape you into being an educated open-minded adult. I hope everyone at least leaves college with some communication skills. That is one class that I am glad is required for everyone.

Problem solving skills are key to any relationship we will have. Whether it is with a coworker, spouse, child or even your parent, you will need to know how to solve conflict. To me, if your mind is clouded with judgment from someone’s skin color, you are not emotional stable (which is a requirement for police officers). In a workplace, especially as a police officer, if you go into your job with a clear mind, your problem-solving skills will be effective. I know not everyone police officers deal with are angels, but I’m focused on the lives that were taken by cruel people.

I understand that police officers must use their best judgment, but how can you use your best judgment when you already have a bias to someone’s character because they’re black? If college isn’t the answer to this problem, then classes to boost communication skills should help. Communication studies courses could help people identify their biases and learn how to handle situations better. I feel like effective communication skills would resolve a problem better than, I don’t know, shooting a man in front of his family.

In an article that was published by inpublicsafety.com, the author, Mark Bond, said, “Research conducted by Jason Rydberg and Dr. William Terrill from Michigan State University provides evidence that having a college degree significantly reduces the likelihood that officers will use force as their first option to gain compliance… Police often tell me that the Police Academy typically spends about 90 percent of its training on defensive tactics and 10 percent on communication skills.”

I cannot stress how important these skills are. Our president is a good example. Most would say his lack of communication skills is a contributing factor that is killing his presidency. I, and many others, am tired of being heartbroken from deadly police force. It is something we cannot ignore. If communication skills or a college degree is the solution, let’s do it.

Featured Illustration by Melissa Monrroy 

Jashel Negron

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