Why We Need More College Graduates Behind the Badge

By Marc A. Levin and Khalil A. Cumberbatch

Policing may not be the future most college students contemplate, but ensuring that it is an attractive career option for them could help make law enforcement agencies more representative and effective. It could also give graduates who might otherwise be adrift a focused career path and sense of purpose.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are coping with spiking vacancies amid increased retirements. Despite rhetoric about defunding the police, it is an inability to fill funded positions that is plaguing the field. Many factors contribute to the problem, from pay to challenging working conditions and the image policing holds with younger generations. Now, with President Biden pledging to help jurisdictions hire another 100,000 officers and bipartisan House legislation designed to bolster police ranks, college students represent a source of recruits that is far from fully tapped. The most recent data indicates that just 30 percent of police officers have a four-year degree.

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