Permanent Residents as Police Officers?
Angie F. Chermanz Monroy: GALEO Intern
August 3, 2018
During the past years, police departments across the state of Georgia have been affected by a shortage of applicants who want to become officers. Additionally, the recent incidents with the police enforcement has hurt recruitment tremendously because it has caused a decrease of trust towards police officers mainly from the minority community 1. All of this has caused a shortage in the pool for qualified applicants and more so when one of the requirements to become an officer, is to be a citizen. So, what can we do to increase the pool for qualified officers without decreasing the quality and expectations?
One great alternative to the shortage, is to allow U.S residents to apply to become law enforcement officials. Doing this will be not only beneficial to increase the applicant pool, but it will also diversify the pool.
Diversifying the police force will be a great strategy in gaining the trust back from the minority community as well as building a relationship with them. As stated in USA Today, It’s important to have a more diverse police force to communicate with immigrants and understand their culture 3. This could be an asset to the immigrant community because it will be easier for them to reach out police officers who speak their native language. It is a great way in “building bridges between police and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities 2.
This will bring another level in understanding the different communities as well as gaining their trust. Communication is the key in building a relationship with an individual, and if law enforcement starts diversifying their pool and showing merit in reaching out minorities, then the community will start to trust them again. As of right now, 14% of full-time sworn officers are female and 22% come from minority communities 4. These percentages clearly show that the Police enforcement program can do better in integrating more minorities into their program by opening its pool to permanent residents.
Another benefit in opening the pool to Legal Permanent Residents in law enforcement programs is that it will increase the number of applicants without lowering the quality.Turning to LPRs is a welcome alternative to proposals such as lowering educational requirements and would help maintain a qualified, competent workforce 1.The police enforcement will be able to still hire the same candidates with the same level of education, age, background and merit. Permanent residents also go through an extraneous screening process during their process to become a US resident. They have to do a background check, fingerprints and even medical examinations. Therefore, US residents can be qualified to work with law enforcement knowing they already did all the screenings necessary to become a police officer in the United States.
Additionally, LPRs will be beneficial in expanding the shrinking pool of candidates. Even though the millennial population surpassed the baby-boomer population, this generation is less interested in law enforcement. As Leitf article specifies, 18 millennials appear to be less interested in law enforcement careers than their elders 1. People in this generation are more eager to work in social advocacy, civil rights movements, rallying and other professional paths. More than ever millennials are striving to go to college and pursuing a career in business, medicine, science or politics. In addition to that, the current incidents with police enforcement around the nation has sparked tension between communities and law enforcement. Young individuals and minorities are now critical of police enforcement and this has impeded to bolster an increase of millennial officers.
Allowing permanent residents to apply to the police enforcement programs is a great first step to increase the number of candidates. There will be more qualified individuals who will apply as well as it will diversify the police enforcement. Permanent residents will build bridges between police officers and the minority community by gaining their trust back and building relations with underrepresented individuals. LPRs would be a great solution to these shortage of applicants as well as a great asset to law enforcement.
- Filling the Ranks: Why Lawful Permanent Residents Should Qualify for Law Enforcement Positions. 2017, leitf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/LPR-6.14.17.pdf.
- Shah, Susan. “Vera Institute.” Vera, www.vera.org/securing-equal-justice/building-bridges-between-police-and-communities/police-and-immigrants.
- Gomez, Alan. “Police Departments Hiring Immigrants as Officers.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 21 Mar. 2015, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/21/immigrant-police-officers/70236828/.
- “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement Report (October 2016).” The United States Department of Justice, 13 Feb. 2018, www.justice.gov/crt/policediversity.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.