POLICE Magazine

MAR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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16 POLICE MARCH 2019 M ost employees are motivated to seek a promotion over the span of their career and law enforcement officers are no different. While the underlying reasons may vary, the ambition is the same: ca- reer advancement. A college education is one of the primary means by which officers can improve their eligibility for promotion. College degrees can be the key to the development of one's working knowl- edge and are often essential to an offi- cer's professional advancement. Over the past 50 years, educational standards have slowly become a norm for police officer hiring requirements. In the late 1960s, recommendations from feder- al and state government sectors em- phasized the importance of bachelor's degrees for all officers to provide them with decision-making skills. ey also suggested graduate degree standards for police administrators as a means to better equip them for leadership responsibilities. In more recent years, the 2015 Pres- ident's Task Force on 21st Century Po- licing identified education as a primary tenet of professional policing to assist officers in developing the skills needed to be effective in the diverse communi- ties in which they serve. BENEFITS OF EDUCATION When police officers invest in higher education, they can potentially gain as- signment changes, pay increases, per- sonal growth, and promotions. From a practical standpoint, college experience assists officers in accom- plishing their responsibilities more effectively. Many officers say that the writing skills they obtained through college classes are invaluable when it comes to the numerous reports they complete in their daily duties. Officers also report the dual benefit of obtaining a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree while working. ere is the immediate reward of an up to 10% pay incentive, but also the delayed reward of prepar- ing for a second career when they retire or exit from the police force. ORGANIZATIONAL BENEFITS e benefits of college-educated offi- cers are not limited to pay and promo- tion. Volumes of research over the past 20 years illustrate that police officers who possess higher education exhib- it greater analytical thinking, better communications skills, and increased maturity in comparison to those who do not. Studies indicate that while ap- proximately 1% of law enforcement de- partments require a four-year degree for an entry-level officer, roughly 40% to 50% of officers hold a degree, many of which were obtained while employed as a police officer. Law enforcement departments en- courage their employees' pursuit of education through pay incentives, shift adjustments for class attendance, and tuition reimbursements. According to a 2013 survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 31% of U.S. law enforcement agencies provided pay incentives to of- ficers who completed college degrees. In an era of higher education where classes, degrees, and entire universities are readily accessible through online education, officers should take advan- tage of such departmental support and accommodations. PROMOTION VIA EDUCATION Just as law enforcement agencies vary on educational standards for hiring, they also differ on promotion require- ments. Some departments require a four-year degree for any promotion, while others require a bachelor's degree for positions such as sergeant and lieu- tenant. Some may require a master's de- PHOTO: POLICE FILE LEARNING TO LEAD You can advance your career through organizational leadership education. SHERAH BASHAM

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