Would Hiring Older, More Educated Recruits Prevent Police Violence?

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The status quo of hiring rookie officers with minimal education persists even as an ample body of research suggests that college-educated officers use force less often and face fewer public complaints and disciplinary actions than those without a bachelor’s degree, reports the Christian Science Monitor. In California, where existing law allows an 18-year-old with a high school diploma or its equivalent to pursue a police career, a state lawmaker aims to raise the hiring bar. Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer has introduced a bill that would require new officers to either earn a four-year degree or turn 25 years old before they could carry a gun and badge. The bill refers to neurological studies showing that young people’s cognitive development – including in the areas of the brain governing impulse control and working memory – continues into the mid-20s. Jones-Sawyer has asserted that recruiting more college-educated or older rookie officers could save cities millions of dollars in payouts arising from excessive force lawsuits.

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