The Pennsylvania State Police department has a lot of jobs to fill, and it has found a smart way to do it. Even better, it will help experienced applicants and military veterans in the process.
The agency, budgeted for 4,689 officers, has 532 vacancies, in part because of retirements. To expand the applicant pool, the department decided to relax an 18-year-old standard that said potential officers had to have at least 60 college credits in addition to a high school diploma or GED certificate.
Now, individuals who have four full years of law enforcement experience or four full years of active military service with an honorable discharge are eligible for a waiver from the college education requirement altogether. Applicants with two years of police experience or two years of satisfactory military service can have 30 of the credit hours waived.
There is nothing wrong with the education requirement in a vacuum, but the waivers recognize the value of pertinent experience that applicants gain on the job, whether in law enforcement or in the military. Individuals who already have been successful in those roles probably have undergone some training similar to that required of state officers and they probably learned the value of discipline, respect for the chain of command and other skills that are essential as a state trooper.
The waivers don’t guarantee that the applicants will be hired. They still would have to pass both written and oral exams, a physical fitness test, polygraph test, background investigation and medical and psychological evaluations before they could be appointed as cadets. Then, they'd face 27 weeks of training.
The waiver of the educational requirements is not a pass for these individuals. It’s an opportunity for them, and for Pennsylvania.