Becoming a LEO Might Require a 4 Year Degree in California

Yeah I know, Vice is an iffy fucking source for anything, but this is a good topic opener for discussion on how to rework law enforcement.

As a lot of you know, I disagree with the messaging of “defund the police”, but am 100% in increasing training requirements if we are going to use police officers as front-line mental health/social workers.


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I’m all for it. However, about 16 years ago, or so, when I had been a CO for a few years, the state of Florida decided it was going to do the same thing. So they first started with incentives. Anyone with a 4 year degree would get extra money. Which was great for me, having a 4 year degree. The state already payed for you degree. Then they made a 4 year degree a requirement to hire.

They quickly found out that hardly anyone with a 4 year degree would put up with the working conditions and low pay. Recruiting went to shit and they backed off that really quick.

I think they are going to run up on the same issues. Being in law enforcement is not very popular right now. And really, the only people with 4 year degrees are typically trying to use it as a stepping stone toward FBI, investigations, or forensics. The pickings are getting slim these days.


Also, there is some irony involved. All the ongoing extra training that is desired will require time off for officers to train.

So they will need MORE officers to cover the ones training.

Which will cost more money.

Plus, if they require 4 year degrees, recruits with that will be able to demand more money…

And no matter how you slice it, 4 year degree or not, being a beat cop is tough work, especially in larger municipalities/counties (as in population, and thus, crime).


What they could do to offset that is simply grandfather some people in while using that as a requirement going forward.


100% agreed. Police is a 3-year academy here, with lots and lots of focus on how to dissolve conflicts without use of force.

Yup. Or at least a gradual implementation. Say, for instance, starting from Jan 1st 2022, you’ll need to do 2 years of school, and some coursework spread out in the first few years of working.
Still, even with the grandfather rule there should be some form of test. Or three strike rule. Or something, IDK.


How are they going to do this and defund the police at the same time?


They’re going to ignore people who use contentious slogans rather than focus on workable solutions.


Yeah I dunno about that. Needing a 4 year degree at a time when they are quite expensive and the job pays low isn’t going to get people to stand in line. More training and education on the job would be good. Not hiring cops with a past. Better mental health counseling and screening. There are plenty of cracks in the dam that warrant attention.

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When I was in college, I took a few criminal justice classes. My brother majored in CJ with a minor in forensics. The majority of people in those CJ classes I took were fat, lazy, out of shape, and thought they were going to be the next hero in the Tom Clancy novel they were reading. Most of the people with CJ degrees that I saw get jobs quit within a few months if they even made it out of the academy. Because they just spent 4 years sitting on their asses, drinking beer, and chasing chicks. Most don’t have the mentality to get dirty and fight dudes for survival.

I don’t think a 4 year degree is the answer. More what Oyvind said, is. A longer training program for the ones who DO want to get dirty, work 12 hour shifts, and have their wife divorce them and take all their possessions, for low pay while turning their kids against them, while being called a racist by everyone they come in contact with.


“some people”.

That would be interesting to work out. It’s going to be on a state by state basis. The Not sure Feds can pass Federal law regulating state policing…

Because States have constitutional police power…to enforce state, county, and municipal law.

Basically, I do not think a 4 year degree is what is necessary to deal with the issues in policing.

I think it can be dealt with by reforming POST level training, as well as ongoing POST requirements for continuing education and training specific to policing. in order to maintain officer POST certification. Those programs and framework exist already.

A four year degree is like saying “everyone should go to college”. We know how well that has worked out in the general population, right?

In fact, one could say this “four year degree” requirement is kind of elitist.

I’d go for better psych screening of POST candidates and hires, which should be ongoing during training.

And training with more emphasis on the things people are complaining about: de-escalation, lack of skill at arresting methods, especially grappling, awareness of personal biases, etc. Officer survival is a HUGE thing in their training. As it should be.

So, there is a spectrum of ability of people who graduate POST. The best guys and gals get sucked up by bigger agencies. Which makes sense, they have more money, better bennies, better working conditions. The smaller agencies get the dregs.

Anyway, I think it’s way more complex than “4 year degree”.


Great minds and all that, plus the voice of experience.

thanks, man…


When I worked at the POST academy, the kids who went CJ were the ones who wanted to either go State Police, and/or FBI or other Federal LEO jobs. They tended to be smart, super-motivated kids, who (thought) they knew what they wanted and had a plan to get there.

So they did the POST academy work, graduated ( usually with top grades and evals), and got their degree. And tried to hire on with the Feds. Or, they got sucked up by large local agencies who cherry picked the best ones.

The lower levels of graduates went to work for very rural agencies, usually SOs, for 10 bucks an hour.

A lot of them NEVER got jobs in LEO. The instructors KNEW they would never make it as LEO.

And fuck this no more than three replies in a row thing.


OK, so let’s think about this.
1.) Does this guy have any evidence that his (I’ll charitably call it a hypothesis) might work?
2.) Police deal in violent encounters. Some of them are misconduct. I’d say the vast majority are not. Nonsense sentence. I mean, maybe it’s misrepresenting him.

OK, here ya go:

I don’t have time to parse all that out. Answer to 1 seems like a maybe.


Well, it will be interesting to see what happens. Glad they are doing this experience to in California. They have some really shitty prisons out there. But they are primarily because they don’t let the guards control the population the way they should. But that’s another thread. It will be fun to watch, and hopefully it will work out. I don’t think it will. They are going to have a hard time finding employees, I think.

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I’m all for setting a high bar for a job that carries a lot of responsibility, particularly where the use of force can result in death, but I’m not entirely convinced that a college degree is the correct filter to apply at the recruitment stage.

So they’ve collected data that suggests that cops with degrees resort to use of force less than cops without. If that’s true, fine, but it doesn’t state wether that’s correct or incorrect use of force. ‘Use of force’ alludes to ‘police violence’ which is provocative on the surface but isn’t necessarily wrong, if an officer uses force legally to deal with a dangerous situation then there isn’t an issue here. The bill needs to clearer about this, also it treats ‘use of force’ and ‘deadly use of force’ interchangeably.

I can understand the logic behind the bill, people with degrees have shown a capacity to learn and a level of commitment, however a capacity to learn doesn’t actually guarantee intelligence, it doesn’t guarantee competency under pressure and certainly not under a threat of violence. Only training under pressure in recruitment will determine this, not academia. The 25 year age-baseline I again logical on the surface but the bill is going off a lot of assumptions and then they could be losing out on potential talent. People would probably have an idea of what they want to do by late teens/early twenties and they could have a career started by the time they’re 25 so unless they really, really wants to be cops there’s little incentive for them to even consider the job.

Another issue I can see (and diesel correct me if I’m wrong on this as I don’t know if catchment areas apply in the states) is that poor areas have less people with a college education so by default those areas will not be represented with the same amount of police recruits as a middling or affluent area and I’m fairly sure that’s ultimately the aim of bills like this, to reduce stats of police violence in poorer areas.

The UK police has its fair share of issues but it’s recruitment process is still pretty decent. The entry requirements for recruits is reasonably low but the training process is stringent in regards to use of force, race relations etc. Then every recruit has to spend two years in response (meaning patrols or being a beat cop), this is a probation period which is very hands on and they’re monitored/mentored by senior cops so if they do prove to be a liability they’re let go. If they pass the two years then they can specialise and if they already have a degree they can fast-track to certain roles and ranks. (They might be able to fast-track past probation if they’re going for a very specific role and they’re a desirable candidate but I’m not 100% on that). This means that a recruit can join at 20 without a degree and if they’re competent, can have a career well under way by the time they’re 25.

I can see what the legislator is trying to achieve but I think by closing the door to so many people at such an early stage they’ll be losing out on a lot of potential recruits in a time when they really need it. I believe in quality over quantity but you need to be able to see the quantity before you can decide what’s quality.


Pay cops more, but require they are better educated?

Yes, please. What better way to clear the podunks of fascists?

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Hell, require cops to get an associate’s in Sociology and half the recruits will be Marxists by the time they are given a badge.

Seems to me that the police training is more important than having a degree to start. I think maybe a higher minimum age would be good. In Canada you can be an 18 year old high school graduate and then with a 26 week course you are an RCMP officer. That just seems inadequate, at that point you’re just a kid with 6 months training.

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The problem is that “more police training” doesn’t work, because the people who that extra training is meant to change don’t give a shit, they want to talk down to, choke, shoot, and kill people of color.

You need to change the people with the badge, and that starts with prerequisites, the first of which is only hiring people who believe everyone is equally human.

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Right on comrade! Lol

So, they take that kid and just toss him in a patrol vehicle and say “have at it”.

They have this thing in the US called field training. Agencies hire officers on probation, basically. They are paired with an experienced officer (or officers) and are further trained and evaluated.

And not everyone passes that, either. They usually get let go.

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