Can raising requirements lead to better police force? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Can raising requirements lead to better police force?

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Across the Mid-South, every police department has similar requirements to become a police officer, including a high school diploma, some college and no criminal record.

Southaven Police Chief Tom Long says every department sends a possible recruit through the most stringent background and mental training, including drug test, polygraph test and physical training. But, it can still be a toss-up.

"Until you're actually out there in the career, working day to day on the streets in the law enforcement capacity, nothing we can really do prior to that in background training, everything else, can guarantee us a successful police officer," says Long.

Even as Memphis considers asking possible recruits for four years of college, we looked into surrounding police department requirements to qualify to be an officer. In Little Rock you need a high school diploma or GED and no felony convictions. West Memphis has the same standards. Nashville requires two years of college or military duty or a high school diploma or GED.

But, the increase in education requirement often dwindles the pool of possible candidates.

"Someone who does great for three years, all of a sudden has a bad run one year, we are all susceptible to the human factors of what is going on in your family life, divorce, money, everything else officers are always susceptible to that," says Long.

He says even with the most educated recruit, there's no magic formula when it comes to moral character and common sense to do the right thing.

Several police departments across the country are loosening their minimum requirements to increase the field of possible recruits. There was a time you couldn't have a criminal drug record at all. Now, some departments say no drug record within the last 3 to 5 years.

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