California Might Change Academic, Age Necessities For Police Officers

A California legislature tabled a bill last week that would require state police officers to have a bachelor’s degree or be 25 years old before they can join.

Democratic MP Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced the bill in early December, believing the stricter requirements could drop the police shootings.

“These tasks are complex, they are difficult, and we shouldn’t just hand them over to people who are not yet fully developed,” said Jones-Sawyer, chairman of the congregation’s public safety committee, in a statement.

State law requires that police officers be at least 18 years old if they have a high school diploma or equivalent. State highway officials must be 20 years old. Jones also cited a 2010 study that showed that college graduates were less likely to use fatal violence in situations with suspects.

The Guardian said the police shootings this year are in line with previous years, despite the state-devastating coronavirus pandemic. In addition, an analysis by the LA Times found that state police shoot three to four people a month for an average of 45 victims a year in LA County alone.

Saywer believes increasing education and age requirements will result in fewer shootouts. Other states, including Illinois and New Jersey, require civil servants to already have a bachelor’s degree. To be a New York Police Department officer, an individual must be 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have at least 60 credits with a GPA of at least 2.0 or two years of active military experience.

California Peace Officers Association assistant director Shaun Rundle told USA Today that the bill could hurt minorities and those who do not have access to higher education.

“We have not taken an official position on the bill, but we fear that this approach could affect the recruitment efforts of military veterans under the age of 25 and those from disadvantaged and under-represented communities who may not have all the opportunities to get a bachelor’s degree beforehand seek a career in law enforcement, “Rundle said in a statement. “Targeted training by the academy would be a more sensible approach.”

Other critics could also argue that states with stricter educational and age requirements have not stopped officials from shooting civilians on a regular basis.

The bill must be voted on in the State Assembly and Senate before it goes to the governor’s desk. Both chambers will not return from the vacation break until the beginning of next year.

Earlier this year, several black Americans were killed in police shootings, including Anthony McClain, a 32-year-old man who was shot by police while a traffic obstruction, and Dijon Kizzee, who was shot more than ten times after a gun was dropped. Sean Monterrosa was also killed by an officer from the Vallejo Police Department when the officer mistook a hammer Monterrosa had in his waistband for a weapon.

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