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Monday, May 5, 2014

Hiring Police Officer in Minnesota

We have started another hiring cycle this year and recently announced we are taking applications for police officers. This is phase one of a long process to hire the best and brightest to serve our citizens for decades to come. Minnesota was a leader in our nation when it came to police officer education and standards in the late 1970s. A police officers standards and training (POST) regulatory agency was created. It mandated a minimum of a two-year degree that met particular learning objectives, and continuing education requirements. Later it expanded to ensure department policies met minimum standards. POST is overseen by an executive director and a board of 15 individuals who represent higher education, chiefs, sheriffs, officers, elected officials and community members.


Some people have argued that the rigid POST requirements make it difficult for anyone other than those who choose a traditional police education route to enter into law enforcement, thus limiting our pool of candidates. Regardless of the sentiments surrounding POST, finding a good officer goes well beyond meeting POST standards.


So what do we look for in a police officer candidate? First, we like to see candidates with significant life experience and maturity. Many chiefs would like to see more people entering police work who has worked in other career fields, or what many of us refer to as “second career candidates.” Life experience is something that cannot be taught, yet it plays a critical element that makes our officers better. Those who have worked in other professions or have faced adversity in their lives can often relate to a broader range of individuals, which helps them tremendously in our community policing efforts. The ability to empathize, relate or understand the struggles that come with life are important attributes I want to see in police officer candidates.


Second, we would like to see more diversity in our candidate pool. Often I hear from individuals with significant life and educational experiences who would like to become police officers and would make excellent ones. However, they simply cannot afford to quit their current jobs to attend more schooling and an academy on their own time and dime. While we have made strides at increasing diversity, we have a long way to go. If we were allowed to hire an individual who had not gone the traditional route to become a police officer, yet had significant life or educational experience, we would be able to expand the diversity of our candidate pool.


Perhaps most importantly, we want the absolute best candidates we can find. I want to continue to hire the best and the brightest so our community can continue to have trust in our police officers. By expanding our options for hiring police officers, we will continue to meet the needs and expectations of those we serve.


In closing, I believe the time is right for Minnesota to expand opportunities for how police departments hire and train police officers. If you know anyone who is considering a career in law enforcement, please encourage them to apply with us!

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