To increase the size of its police, force the city of Memphis is changing the recruitment policy. Under the new policy new recruits no longer need a college degree. The policy was approved by city leaders last month, but some feel a lack of education puts citizen’s safety in jeopardy.
“This is a type of job that you have the ability to take someone’s life,” said Michael R. Williams, Memphis Police Association President. “This is a type of job that you’re going to serve as a police officer in what the FBI has deemed the second or third most violent city in the nation per capital.”
To be a police officer in the Bluff City Williams believes you need to be the best.
“Some jobs you can get on the job training,” he said. “This is one of those jobs where you need to bring some qualifications to the job and the citizens of the city of Memphis deserve that as apposed, to lowering the standards.
Williams reacted Tuesday to news that city leaders rolled out changes to the police department’s recruitment policy. New guidelines indicate recruits no longer need a college degree or military experience.
According to the policy obtained by Local 24 the change says:
“Five (5) years of full-time responsible, verifiable work experience and a high school diploma or GED. (Special Requirement: Applicants who qualify under this stipulation must obtain an Associates, degree within 4 (4) years of date of employment.
Must not have been convicted of or pled guilty (or enter a plea of Nolo Contendere) to any felony charges.
Must be at least 21 years of age upon completion of Police Basic Training Program.
Must successfully pass entry level requirements and testing (physical, written, background investigation, psychological and medical) for Police Recruit.
Must possess and maintain a vail license as a condition for continued employment.”
Williams believes the new policy sends the wrong message.
“What it tells me is that the Memphis Police Department or the City of Memphis is unable to get qualified individuals to actually sign up or come to the city of Memphis.”
The city employed similar tactics in years past.
In a statement to Local 24 the city said the change is part of a new initiative.
“The City of Memphis is looking to strengthen our city and make our streets safer by adding 300-500 officers to MPD. It’s important to us that we give everyone an equal opportunity at becoming the Best in Blue, so we have expanded our reach for highly-qualified applicants. Memphis is at high competition for talent and this change makes us more competitive with neighboring agencies,” said Alex Smith, Chief Human Resource Officer. “The new initiative being launched by the City of Memphis’ Best in Blue Campaign comes after benchmarking and comparing our qualifications to other municipalities including Nashville who have similar requirements. In line with Mayor Strickland’s initiative to move Memphis forward, we believe in incentivizing officers to obtain a college education by offering tuition reimbursement and additional pay for college hours earned. The City of Memphis welcomes applicants who have earned an Associate degree in Criminal Justice or have five years of military service as a reservist; also, five-year history of verifiable work experience along with a commitment to meet our education requirements.”
Memphians Local 24 spoke to about the issue say they’re on the fence about the change.
“I don’t think a college degree is necessary,” said Tamorra Jackson. “However, I do think it shows discipline to have a two or four -year degree.”