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Idaho PD lowers education requirements to become a police officer

By Ian Max Stevenson
The Idaho Statesman

BOISE, Idaho – Want to be a police officer? The Boise Police Department just made it a little easier.

The Boise Police Department is changing its hiring criteria for new recruits, removing a collegiate requirement in an effort to hire candidates who reflect the city’s population.

Until now, the department required applicants to have 60 college credits, or the number typically needed for an associate’s degree, before applying.

A division formed by the police department in 2021, the Training, Education and Development Division, found that the requirement “limits both the size and ability of the applicant pool to accurately reflect the community,” a press release read.

“See fewer candidates”

The change in requirements comes as the department is understaffed and other western police departments have faced policing challenges due to understaffing.

Boise police are authorized to have 328 sworn officers and have 298, Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks told the Idaho Statesman in an interview.

There are currently more than 100 entry-level agent applicants and 12 side-agent applicants, who are agents from other agencies who want to move to Boise.

“Our recruiting efforts have really paid off, and we’ve seen an increase in applications to the police department this year compared to the previous two years,” Brooks said.

But the department is “still seeing fewer applicants,” the statement said.

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Brooks said Boise hasn’t had to reassign officers away from some divisions.

In Boise, the number of major crimes – negligent murder and manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery, motor vehicle theft and arson – has fallen by nearly 16% between 2020 and 2021 , continuing a decline since 2017 interrupted by an increase in 2020, according to departmental statistics.

Boise offers a 26-week police academy

“Sometimes people’s life circumstances prevent or distract them from higher education immediately after high school,” Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks told the Idaho Statesman in an interview.

“Our priority must be on the content of someone’s character, and making sure that the people we hire have strong moral fiber and high ethical values, and that we can train them through the academy. of police and through ongoing continuing education to be a police officer,” he said.

New agents will still need to have a high school diploma and at least three years of continuous work experience.

Applicants are paid while they learn at the department’s police academy, which lasts about 26 weeks, Brooks said. Subsequently, new officers undergo between four and six months of on-the-job training.

New agents earn about $56,000 a year, while side agents earn about $71,000, according to the department’s website. Officers with more experience earn more.

Other departments around the country also have 60-credit requirements, although some have recently chosen to remove them. Chicago did it for some new recruits earlier this year, as did Philadelphia. Like Boise, other departments made changes as recruiting new officers became more difficult.

Boise has also partnered with the College of Western Idaho to allow officers to continue their education while on the force, which will allow new recruits to earn college credit for their time at the police academy.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Chicago PD revises hiring standards amid staffing shortage]

The Force Training Division “also worked with the CWI to identify options for officers to further their education at CWI and possibly transfer to (Boise State University) or another affiliated college/university to obtain a bachelor’s degree,” the statement said.

The department will always strive for new officers to earn at least 60 credits in their first five years, he said. Officers attending the school, however, are not eligible for tuition reimbursement.

Brooks said any degree that can teach someone “critical thinking skills, good writing skills, research and evaluation skills” would be helpful for an officer.

“College was never something I really envisioned”

The deputy chief told the Statesman that he grew up without a lot of money and dropped out of high school.

No one in his family had gone to college and he started working at age 10.

“College was never something I really envisioned,” he said.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Mayor Adams considers dropping NYPD college credit requirement]

In Antioch, California, the town where he grew up, he was able to join the police without a college degree.

Early on, the chief of police asked him what he wanted to achieve in his career, and he said that he wanted to be chief of police himself one day.

“Well, you’ll never become a police chief as a high school dropout,” the chief told him.

Brooks said he took that advice seriously and earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in leadership. He later became Chief of Police of Antioch.

“I was lucky enough to enter this profession without having a university degree, but I recognize that there was value in developing myself throughout my career and obtaining a higher education,” he said. -he declares. “I’m sitting here today as Deputy Chief of Police.”

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