According to a 2006 report by USA Today, “In an analysis of disciplinary cases against Florida cops from 1997 to 2002, the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that officers with only high school educations were the subjects of 75% of all disciplinary actions. Officers with four-year degrees accounted for 11% of such actions.”
Police Chief Magazine similarly published findings that indicate that officers with bachelor of arts degrees performed on par with officers who had 10 years’ additional experience. And yet police departments have struggled to toughen up their educational requirements in part because recruiters are concerned that the relatively low pay offered by most entry-level law enforcement jobs would not be enough to attract college graduates. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of those on the police force nationwide is $56,980, but that number includes the highest paid detectives.) Of course this is another part of the problem. We want men and women in law enforcement who treat their jobs as police officers, as what they are: some of the most important jobs in our country that carry a great responsibility. Yet we pay them on par with postal workers.
After George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin many people wondered what they could do to make a difference in the aftermath. Tweeting is fine. Marching is great. But as I wrote at the time, actually showing up for jury duty is even better.