Custom «College Degree Requirements» Sample Essay
Debates over education for law enforcement officers have lasted for several decades. Although most agencies do not demand their officers to have any degree, some require two or even four year college training. Nevertheless, not all education is as efficient as it is expected, so experience and practice remain the best teachers and they can teach what no college can.
Despite the fact that the issue of college education for law enforcement officers has been discussed for a long time, there is little literature showing a direct correlation between college education and job performance as well as crime combating and prevention. Nevertheless, one can trace this issue raised back in the 1930s by August Vollmer. After Vollmer's work was published, some law enforcement agencies began to require their employees to have at least a two-year college education. Nowadays, the number of law enforcement agencies requiring higher education for their employees is lower than 15%. According to different data, less than 5% of all police officers are required to have four-year education, and less than 10% should have a two-year study period in higher educational institutions (Paynich, 2009; Travis, 1995). It should be also noted that officers spend more than 25 weeks in initial training, plus two years as a probationary officer, where they learn the technical side of policing (Bear & Rieken, 2012). It means that the newly employed person should have at least a year of education that means that his or her full-time official employment begins only in 4 and half years or even in 6 years if a four-year college education is required.
If one analyzes the literature about the issue of law enforcement officers’ education and performance, there are no great differences in the professional activity of those who have higher education and those who do not have it. Officers with degrees in liberal arts may have better communication skills, but without a degree in law, they still may not be qualified for the employment in criminal justice, as research shows (Travis, 1995).
Although Rebecca L. Paynich (2009) and other emphasize that college-educated police officers have better communication skills, better write reports and receive fewer citizen complaints, Patrick J. McDonnell (2008) claims that
no statistically significant difference was found when different levels of officer education were compared to officers' evaluation scores (decision making/problem solving; quality of work, knowledge of work; writing accurate and detailed criminal and traffic accident reports and field interview cards; provide positive interaction and effective communications with public, co-workers and supervisors; conducting investigations; and overall rating) in the first five years of employment as a police officer.
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Even if there are some benefits of having higher education for law enforcement officers, none of them shows the impact on crime fighting and prevention. Therefore, the logical conclusion can be made: college education does not make a significant difference in the officers' performance.
Moreover, J. Travis (1995) stated that after comparing college-educated officers and the experienced ones, it was found there was no great difference in the professional performance of both groups. Furthermore, the experienced officers show better skills in crime fighting. That is why it should be noted that not all what is taught in colleges is later applied in practice. As Travis (1995) admits, officers with higher education often face situations when their tutors say 'Forget everything you were taught before, it is real life'. The fact is that many skills needed in police service simply may not be taught in college, and police service is the situation where practice remains the best teacher.
Finally, practice, experience, and some initial training are what law enforcement officers need to make their professional performance as good as possible. Although college education is not as useful for the police officers as it is expected and it is not compulsory for the employment in the majority of law enforcement agencies, most officers still go into colleges before or after they are employed.
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