Going beyond the bachelor's: Why police training is so important (2023)

  • criminal justice
Erik Fritsvold, PhDRead full biography

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Going beyond the bachelor's: Why police training is so important (2)

The importance of education in law enforcement has long been debated. While many agencies have historically required few or no college courses for entry-level positions, research suggests a positive correlation between education and job performance at all levels of law enforcement.

Recent calls for police reform, combined with mounting evidence that a A well-trained police force can have numerous positive effects.sparked a nationwide discussion about it Increased training requirements for police officers.

While law enforcement officers may not have required an advanced degree in the past, times are changing rapidly. Today, an argument must be made that law enforcement needs leaders equipped with 21st century skills that go beyond the traditional police academy or basic training.

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Here are some of the top reasons why more law enforcement professionals should consider a master's degree.

1. The federal government recommends it

HeWorking Group for 21st Century Surveillanceit was intended to “strengthen community policing and build trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.” One of the most important recommendations was to improve “education and training”.

Citing factors such as international terrorism, evolving technology, increased immigration, changing laws, a new appreciation of cultural mores, and a growing mental health crisis, the report found: "The skills and knowledge required to address these problems effectively require a higher level of education, as well as extensive and continuous training in specific disciplines”.

The report includes more than ten pages of higher education and apprenticeship recommendations for law enforcement officials, including the recommendation that State and local authorities encourage and promote higher education.For officers looking to enter the field or grow within their departments, there has never been a better time to consider an advanced degree and take advantage of the many leadership opportunities in this rapidly evolving field.

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2. Community policing is a national priority that requires college-educated police officers

Community policing is taking center stage as cities, states, and the federal government look for ways to improve interactions with the local community.So important is the initiative that the federal government has spent and directed billions of dollars recruiting and training community police officers.Office of Community Oriented Policing Servicestogether with the Community Policing Consortium to help departments across the country develop and implement community policing strategies.

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For most departmentsCommunity policing requires a change of strategy. While officers may have previously patrolled the streets in their squad cars with the windows rolled up, community policing requires officers to walk the streets and build relationships with citizens.

Working closely with and building relationships with citizens of diverse backgrounds, socioeconomic groups, and ethnicities requires a highly socially intelligent and culturally aware officer. Research shows that college-educated officers aremuch more skilled and accustomed to problem solving, creative thinking and open minded. It appears that officers who have earned college degrees, plus field experience and additional training from POST and/or its law enforcement association, are particularly well positioned to succeed in community policing efforts.

3. New technologies are rapidly changing the field of law enforcement

As new technology is introduced into law enforcement, departments must ensure that their officers are well trained and comfortable using these new tools effectively.

New automated technologies such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are being used by law enforcement to improve efficiency and increase security. According to Accenture, 53% of police forces anticipate actionAI to help them determine riskby 2023. AI technologies can also help with crowd control and surveillance, image enhancement, and even facial recognition, according to an article fromForbes. In the Forbes article, author Kathleen Walch of Cognilytica also explains that AI is used to detect signs of non-violent crime in video footage, which officers can then investigate further.

While these technologies are still evolving and evolving, the need for proper training in digital tools, along with law enforcement training, is essential for smooth adoption and implementation within an agency.

4. Looking for law enforcement professionals with leadership skills

There's aLack of training programs for law enforcement leadersand many traditional criminal justice programs include leadership as only a small part of their curriculum. As a generation of Baby Boomers retires or retires and the profession faces a variety of new challenges, such as new technologies, calls for reform, community policing requirements, and structural changes, leaders with knowledge of these and other contemporary issues are emerging with much demand by law. application. Unfortunately, there is a lack of officials who meet these criteria.

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For law enforcement officers interested in leadership roles, taking the initiative to enroll in an accredited master's degree in law enforcement leadership may be a better option than waiting for department-sponsored training. Good leadership training programs give officers the tools they need to not only advance their careers, but also drive positive initiatives and growth in their department. As Gregory A. Warren EdD, Delaware State Police Captain (Retired) wrotePolice Chief Magazine, "Great leadership fosters both individual and organizational excellence and enables an organization to achieve its vision."

5. Traditional training and criminal justice programs are outdated and incomprehensible

It's no secret that many criminal justice training programs and college degrees are outdated and do not adequately prepare officers for the real-world challenges they will face upon graduation. Not to mention the lack of focus on core leadership-related competencies such as communication, conflict resolution, and management.

According to the final report of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, “Other Witnesses spoke of the police training now offered by universities, noting that undergraduate courses in criminal justice and criminology provide a useful foundation, but that short courses they are of mixed quality and even some degree programs do not come close to meeting the needs of 21st century law enforcement.”

Go back to college and work full time at the same time

Law enforcement agencies seeking promotion are often faced with the question: With my unplanned workload and numerous family commitments, how do I find the time to earn my Master's degree? For many who work in criminal justice, the answer lies in an online degree program designed for working adults, a program that allows students to balance their schedule while earning a degree on a realistic time frame without going to campus. .

The University of San Diego is onlineMaster of Leadership in Law Enforcement and Public Safety(LEPSL) is one such program designed specifically for experienced law enforcement professionals. Students in the program range from new officers interested in eventually moving up to senior management positions to current law enforcement officers looking to hone and enhance their leadership skills. Regardless of a student's career stage, the highlight of the program is the practical application of learning concepts to students' daily work environment. Program alumnus Jennifer Tejada, a retired Emeryville, California police chief, said, "There's experiential learning and academic learning, and I think we need both." Another former student was able to make the most of her practical and academic knowledge. Brent Kaneyuki of the Sacramento Police Department said, "I was promoted to lieutenant the same day I graduated from the LEPSL program. I attribute much of my recent success to the program."

Going beyond the bachelor's: Why police training is so important (3)

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Dr. Erik Fritsvold

Academic Director, MS-LEPSL program

The importance of education in law enforcement has long been debated. While many agencies have historically required few or no college courses for entry-level positions, research suggests a positive correlation between education and job performance at all levels of law enforcement. Recent calls for police reform, combined...

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