The standards to become a Law Enforcement officer are entirely too low. This is a problem in my opinion. The dangerous nature of the job makes it an unappealing one to most people who are qualified to do it. Although being higher in rank within the chain of command at any specific agency brings a more desired salary, the demanding schedule and workload of a rookie officer comes with sub-par wages and benefits. There is a clear correlation between standards and pay. There is a problem, at least locally, where departments are understaffed, because no one wants to be a cop. People don’t want to become a police officer because they don’t get paid enough, but I don’t know what to do about it.
Maybe cops should get paid more. I’ve heard it said that military, law enforcement, teachers etc. should be paid like football players. Essentially swapping income between public servants/first responders and professional athletes. That would be dope. I’d love to make as much as Russell Westbrook, just cruising around arresting people. I’d get sued more often that’s for sure. Meth heads would be lining up to sue me for “violating their constitutional rights”. A more logical thing would just be to raise the pay in a way that is proper reciprocation for putting your life in danger. Maybe make all law enforcement a federal or state job with a pay scale like the GS (General Schedule). For sure needs to be a universal pay, regardless of location. I know cops who make $10/hr. and that is SAD. Those cops could get hurt or killed doing their job, obviously the chances are lower in less densely populated areas, but it doesn’t matter. The job we do is dangerous.
Until the standards are raised to become a police officer the low pay will probably not change. Most police departments in the US have a minimum education requirement of a diploma or GED. I have a diploma and some college, and I sometimes still have trouble with constitutional law. Further education would obviously only help you in any career, but maybe the minimum requirement should be higher. As far as the fitness requirements those should absolutely be raised. In the state of Alabama the standard is a 1.5 mile run in 15:28 or faster, 22 push-ups in a minute, and 25 sit-ups in a minute. I am certain that my 3 year old niece could complete that with ease. There is also an agility portion of the test that involves; pushing a car, climbing a 6ft fence, walking on a balance beam, climbing through a window, and dragging a 165lb dummy. Most agencies don’t even test yearly to make sure that those standards are being kept up with after completing your certification. Some people think of cops as fat doughnut eating slobs who sit around and BS, only working when they are ruining your day by writing you a speeding ticket. I’ll tell you that there are absolutely some cops who fit that description perfectly. That will always be the case though, but the physical fitness part can be changed by raising the standards. Most agencies require a minimum age of 21 by the time you complete your POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certification. Maybe make that age 25? I became a police officer when I was 23 and will admit that I wasn’t mature enough for the job, but thanks to competent and caring supervisors I quickly changed.
I don’t know how to change the standards, but they need to be higher that’s for sure. Until then I’ll keep doing my job, trying to affect change in people’s heart to do better, for less than desired wages.