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by Peter Moskos

September 7, 2010

College-Educated Cops

I had a BA and all the requirements of a Masters' Degree when I was a Baltimore cop. And now I teach some NYPD and many students who want to be police officers. So I am a bit partial to the idea that college is good for everybody, cops included (or else what am I doing in my school office at 10:30pm?).

But I worked with many great people and police officers who had nothing but a Baltimore public education high-school degree. I know you don't need college to police. But I like to think that college makes you a better person and being a better person makes you a better police officer.

Anyway, a recent study shows that college makes cops less quick to use force.

Rings true to me but I'm not sure why. Perhaps, if nothing else, college means you're older when you join the P.D. And that makes you wiser. But I also like to think that college and college class helps teach people how to talk respectfully to people you don't agree with. That's a good tool for a cop.


Cleanville Tziabatz said...

Good observation. I saw this story/study over at the Adge, but I hadn't thought about it quite that way.

Dana King said...

I was a college graduate when I joined the Army, to play in a band. At the end of basic training, a drill instructor asked me why musicians did disproportionately well in Soldier of the Cycle competitions. The best answer I could come up with was that many of us has at least some college and were a little older than most, which gave us some maturity. I'll stand by that answer, and add the we had some self-discipline, and an ability to see things in context better, both of which are college skills learned largely outside the classroom. I don't see why the same shouldn't be true for cops.

Kamikazecop said...

Damn! All this time I thought edge dressing made you a better cop.

suz said...

I work in a small college town, and I'm continually amazed by the naivety, helplessness and uselessness of these kids who have NO skills beyond academics and athletics. College is a relatively safe place for kids to finally grow up. (Some never do, but that's a different subject.) A college education not only broadens the intellect, it teaches problem solving and conflict resolution skills - signs of maturity.

I know police academies have A LOT to teach, but I wonder how much conflict theory is stressed. It sounds esoteric and "Ivory Tower," but it's not. It makes sense from day one, and it's useful in every situation. Do academies just give brief introductions to the subject, or do they really dig into it?

Anonymous said...

Police Academy - Bureaucrat's cya

College - Individual's cya

PCM said...

Edge dressing... that's funny.

"It behooves you to fall in love in love with edge dressing!" our class commander once said. He's no longer a cop.

What's also funny how without edge dressing, my life seems no worse.

And yet just today I was getting a shoe shine in Penn Station and when the shoe-shine guy broke out the edge dressing, I appreciated his attention to detail!