Recent police events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, New York reignited a national debate concerning the quality of police practitioners in the United States. Policing is a comprehensive industry where practitioners are asked to enforce the law, and play a variety of roles to include mental health and marriage counselor and community relations coordinator. A confluence of elements provides police officers with the skills necessary to be successful in the field. One of those elements is college education, yet the police industry has failed to institute higher education requirements. It is the practitioners in the field, not researchers that ultimately establish higher education requirements. This study examined, through qualitative exploratory research, what 15 law enforcement practitioners believed the role of higher education is for police officer, police agency, and industry success. The study investigated the perceptions of police officers in the Eastern part of the United States ranging from a chief of police to a patrol officer. Police practitioners revealed they believe higher education enhances certain skills and therefore provides police officers with a stronger foundation for success. These practitioners believe the importance of higher education increases as a police officer's rank increases. The research findings guided the development of a recommended higher education standards matrix based on rank. This study recommends that police officers possess an associate's degree, police supervisors possess a bachelor's degree, and persons in the rank of command staff or higher possess a master's degree.
|Subjects||Management; Public administration; Criminology; Organization theory; Higher education|
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