Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association
Public Perceptions
Print Icon Mar 13, 2019

Public Perceptions

By:  Jeff Perry

People that police were hired to serve and protect have generally shifted their views of police negatively as of late.  Most of the downward shift is caused by their lack of knowledge and understanding.  Of course that is exploited by the press as they over dramatize incidents to make proper police work look improper.  None of this is new.  It just happened to gain more traction than usual.

Why did it gain more traction than in the past?  One of the main reasons is the videos of some of the conflicts.  The videos tend to start after the conflict begins, thus missing what is often very relevant information.  It leaves the viewers in the dark over why the officers are even taking any action.  This won’t change until every officer is wearing a video camera as part of their uniforms.

Another reason is not so new.  The general public just doesn’t understand how they should act when confronted by police.  It seems to me to be a growing problem that isn’t being addressed properly until reviewed by those who are properly informed.

I know I taught my children to listen and comply with police orders.  I don’t think that is happening in most households.  Certainly many children in the lower income areas are not being taught to comply.  Those are the areas where many of those involved are raised.  Given the number of people who have actively protested and spoken out against officers who were properly performing their jobs, it seems that many either were never told of the need to comply with police orders or they just never learned.

This could be an easy fix.  Given how much teachers are specifically told exactly what to teach, they should just add teaching how to comply with police orders to the list.  It would have a dramatic impact in the long run.  It would also offer a great opportunity for officers to demonstrate when the officers give and order, how to comply and what could happen if they don’t comply. Until then, be careful to remember you will probably be caught on camera when you work.

On a related note, there has been a debate on the educational requirements for police for quite a while.  The idea is understandable since police need to know so much and act so fast.  Basically, police need to have the knowledge of lawyers with handcuffs and guns. Of course the police academy isn’t quite as long as the seven years of college required for attorneys, and it has to cover guns and defensive techniques,… etc.

College degrees have never been a normal requirement to be a police officer.  In 2007, the last year a survey was conducted, only 1% of police departments required a four year degree, 9% wanted a two year degree and 6% demanded some college.

Despite how few departments require college, around 36% of officers aged twenty-five and older have at least a bachelor’s degree.  That is over a tenfold increase in the last forty-five years.

Critics claim that college requirements make it much more difficult to recruit minority officers, a constant image problem in larger cities.   Of course many of those same critics feel that the officers should be better educated.  It is quite ironic that the critics can’t even agree with themselves.

Statistically, those officers with degrees were much less likely to be disciplined.  Despite the trend, New Orleans recently relaxed their requirements.  They are trying to increase the force by almost five hundred officers and felt the requirement was eliminating too many potential candidates.    However, I would be surprised if the increase doesn’t continue.

I would also like to congratulate the officers in Brimfield Township.  They have been fighting with their former Chief for years.  He would constantly target officers who stood up to him.  Many were fired and had to fight to get their jobs back.  Many others just left to escape his bizarre tactics and crazy antics.  The Trustees thought he was doing a good job primarily because of all of the friends he made for his department on Facebook.

He retired under the cloud of health issues.  It probably had a lot more to do with the lawsuit filed against him.  From the sound of things, one or more may be on the way.


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