New Practices to Ease Police Recruitment Should be Evidence-Based

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To the Editor:

American police departments are struggling to meet their staffing goals. Agencies cannot attract or retain enough officers. The crisis is so bad that some departments are modifying their hiring protocols. Examples of recent changes include:

  1. relaxing fitness standards
  2. removing college requirements
  3. eliminating polygraph testing
  4. modifying citizenship requirements and drug use policies

Arguably, viral videos of unconstitutional policing, anti-police protests, and the aftermath of the pandemic are compounding the current staffing woes. The culmination of these challenges hinders recruitment and fuels an exodus of officers who either resign or retire prematurely.

Granted, some departments are making improvements, but the number of officers leaving the force frequently outpaces new hires. Therefore, the urgency to hire new cops is understandable. However, it is important to make evidence-based changes, so quality is not compromised for quantity.

Dr. James T. Scott
New Haven, CT

Scott is a retired sergeant with the Connecticut State Police, and assistant professor at Albertus Magnus College