Education and Training

Education and Training

As the rallying cry for police reform continues into 2021, law enforcement departments everywhere should implement more education requirements for their officers. A 2010 study from Michigan State University criminal justice researchers shows that police officers with a four-year college degree are less likely to use force. At the heart of it, higher educated officers resort to violence less. Police departments with more college-educated officers have relatively fewer use of force complaints by citizens and fewer terminations due to misconduct. They also foster better police-community relationships. Given the suggestions of this research, communities will be served better – and less violently – by increasing officers’ educational attainment.

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Education and Training
Education and Training

Key Observations:

  • Police departments with more college-educated officers have relatively fewer use of force complaints.

  • Police officers with four-year college degrees were nearly 30% less likely to discharge their firearms.8 Furthermore, agencies where officers had at least a two-year degree had a lower rate of civilian complaints about the use of force.
  • 25% of citizens with mental health diagnoses have a history of arrest.
  • People with untreated mental health needs are 16 times more likely than the general population to be killed during a police encounter.
Education and Training

Recommendations:

  • Allocate federal, state, or local funding and benchmarks for increasing education.
  • Advocate that law enforcement agencies develop an education standard for police officers.
  • Develop partnerships between police agencies and mental health services, providing agencies and professionals with a guide to best practices when interacting with individuals who need specialized attention, support, and protocol.
  • Standardize universal training specific to racial profiling, bias, and mental health practices. 
  • Engage in community conversations to access citizen perspectives and community expectations.
  • Invite the U.S. Justice Department and local agencies to work with universities.
Education and Training
Education and Training

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