Less-educated police recruits can now apply at the Scottsdale Police Department, which this month waived its requirement of 60 college credits for new officers.
While officials said the move will allow the agency to find more recruits, the founder of a police association that encourages college degrees said the department’s new policy could prove problematic in the long run.
"That’s too bad," said Louis Mayo, founder and executive director of the Police Association for College Education. "Consistent research over the past 40 years show departments that require B.A. degrees have less abuse of power or unlawful excessive force."
Recruitment officer Greg Carlin sent an e-mail to department employees about the new standards June 2.
"These changes will allow us to attract a larger percentage of qualified applicants who many have chosen to begin their law enforcement career prior to completion of a college education. It will also allow for innovative recruitment strategies, targeting high school graduates and community college attendees," the e-mail stated.
Carlin said in the e-mail that officers who want promotions still must have at least 60 college credits.
Other Valley and state agencies, including Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert police and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, only require high school diplomas or a GED.
Mayo’s organization lists all police agencies in the nation that required bachelor’s degrees as of Dec. 16, 2003.
The only department in Arizona that required college credit, besides Scottsdale police, is Arizona Game & Fish, the police association’s Web site states. The 120 wildlife managers who are Arizona Peace Officer Standard and Training Board certified must have a bachelor’s degree related to biology or wildlife science, said Diana Shaffer, human resources manager for the agency. They would not be able to estimate wildlife populations and assess diseases without their degrees, she said.
Scottsdale, which has 17 openings for officers, hasn’t had a problem recruiting but wants to be in the same pool for candidates as other Valley agencies, Carlin said.
"There are going to be people who think we’re lowering our standards. I want to assure people we’re not," he said. "We’re not lowering our standards. They have to pass through the same test, the same background checks."