Given the “cop crunch” that is leaving police departments across the country understaffed, Congress should re-establish the federal Law Enforcement Education Program, argues Karl Bickel, a former official of the Frederick County, Md., Sheriff’s Office, in the Baltimore Sun. Bickel says that 80 percent of the nation’s 17,000 state and local law enforcement agencies have vacancies they cannot fill. He says some departments are considering relaxing requirements for college credits and modifying prohibitions on applicants with a history of arrest or drug use in an effort to expand the pool of potential hires.
The old Law Enforcement Education Program, or LEEP, helped educate more than 300,000 law enforcement officers who attended more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Despite LEEP’s success, two-thirds of our nation’s police officers do not have college degrees, Bickel says. He contends that a “reconstituted LEEP program would attract college-educated men and women to the law enforcement field, a field in dire need of qualified applicants.”