Police Training Needs to ‘Move Into 21st Century,’ says Retired NYPD Detective

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Dallas police officers at the 33rd annual national Peace Officers Memorial Day Services on the U.S. Capitol Grounds, May, 2014. Photo by Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Longer training and a better evaluation process for recruits could weed out individuals unsuited to policing, says a retired New York Police Detective.

“This training should be akin to an undergraduate degree [specializing in] some form of police science,” said Kirk Burkhalter, now a professor at New York Law School, told ABC News.

Kirk Burkhalter

Kirk Burkhalter via ABC News

Burkhalter, who served 20 years with the NYPD before retiring as a detective first grade, said police training “needs to move forward into the 21st century.”

Police should undergo at least two years of training and education before they are given a gun and sent out into the streets, added Burkhalter, noting that most existing training  for police officers was ineffective.

“Pretty much, I would recommend throwing out the book and starting over,” he said.

The average police academy class in the U.S. lasts 21 weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

As part of an ABC News investigation last year on police de-escalation training, Maria “Maki” Haberfield, a professor of police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said, “We have the shortest training in comparison to any democratic country.”

She said some Scandinavian countries, including Finland and Sweden, require recruits to go to a four-year police university before they are assigned to departments.

Read The Crime Report Series on Police Training: How to Be a 21st Century Cop.

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