Guns, tasers and degrees.

With today’s political climate of Democrats vs Republicans, of Black lives matter against Blue lives matter there is always something new on the news in the United States about an accidental shooting by police, or of a death of an individual while in police custody. Most of the time this happens the suspect who was apprehended is African-American. It used to be that police were completely protected and in some cases today they are. Some of the most recent ones like George Floyd are still being investigated and the cops involved are on trial. On April 11, 2021, Daunte Wright was shot by police officers in Minneapolis while at a stop sign. Video evidence shows that Daunte was struck by a bullet when the police officer yelled “taser, taser, taser” this has led to controversy in the social and political arguments about how an officer of the law mistakes a taser from a gun. Was it an accident? Only Kim Potter, the officer who discharged the weapon, knows. A person who doesn't know the difference between a gun and a taser, should they be a police officer? Kim Potter is a twenty-six-year veteran of the Brooklyn police department. Twenty-six years of service, should she know the difference? Potter turned over her badge after being charged with second-degree manslaughter by the Bureau of criminal apprehension in St. Paul. Sharpton of MSNBC’S “PoliticsNation” "If she didn't know in 26 years the difference in size and weight of a gun as opposed to a Taser, then how was she a veteran in policing?” Deaths of young African-Americans by police are not uncommon in the United States but what other alternatives can they look for when twenty-six years of experience fail in a moment of panic. Would earning a degree in law enforcement make you a better officer?


Generally, most police academies have common requirements which are high school diploma or higher, at least eighteen years of age, must be an American citizen or registered resident who qualifies for naturalization, no criminal convictions, no mental issues present in a psychological test. The requirements for application to a police academy even though it is only a high school diploma requirement most police websites recommend getting a higher education, some positions require higher degrees, but how common is it for a police officer to get an Associates’ degree? Bachelors? Masters? Doctorate? The answer to this question will be explained with information from the National Center of Education Statistics. For an Associate’s degree from the year 2018-2019 postsecondary institutions by race/ethnicity and field of study, for all fields of study, the total number of applicants (2018) is 1,036,662. For applicants in the fields of Homeland security, Law enforcement, and Firefighting there was 35,201 total. White people 16,453. African-Americans 4,881. And Hispanic 11,360. For Bachelor's degree and onward there are individual charts for men and women. Bachelor’s degree awarded to males in the year 2018-19, for all fields total is 857,545. Homeland security, Law enforcement and Firefighting degrees awarded are 29,148. White people 16,570. African-American 4,344. Hispanic 5,746. For women with a bachelor's degree for all fields, the total number is 1,155,309. Bachelors in Homeland security, Law enforcement, Firefighting total is 28,191. White people 12,148. African-Americans 6,487. Hispanic 7,219. Masters degrees awarded to males for 2018-19. For all fields 326,186. Masters in Homeland security, Law enforcement, and Firefighting 5,201. White people 3,163. African-American 857. Hispanic 697. For women in all fields for 2018-19 507,520. In the field of Homeland security, Law enforcement, Firefighting 5,102. White people 2,551, African American 1,452, Hispanic 646. Doctorate degrees awarded to males in all fields for the year 2018-19 85,769. In the field of Homeland security, Law enforcement and Firefighting total 124. White people 81, African-American 22, Hispanic 6. Doctorate awarded to women in all fields for the same year total 101,799. In the field of Homeland security, Law enforcement, Firefighting 126. White people 74, African-American 32, Hispanic 8.


While for earlier degrees like a Bachelors and Associates there is a high volume of students for a degree in Homeland security, Law enforcement, and Firefighting the total number of students in this field is small compared to the total number of students enrolling to earn other degrees. According to demographics from Statista, there are 697,195 active police officers 2018-2019. Out of those 697,195 active police officers, there is 103,093 total that has a college degree either associates, bachelors, masters, or doctorate. That means that there are around 594,102 police officers around the United States that only graduated from high school. In the occupational handbook of the U.S bureau of labor statistics, the average pay as of 2019 is 32.35$ per hour a total of 67,290$ per year. That is so much better than minimum wage, and straight after high school 594,102 people joined the police force and are earning an average of 67,290$ a year without a degree. As discussed above of those 103,093 men and women that earn a college degree in Homeland security, Law enforcement, Firefighting, the majority are white people. Of 103,093 officers with degrees, 51,040 of those officers that earned a degree are white. 18,075 are African-American, 25,682 are Hispanic. The majority of law enforcement earning higher education degrees are white people, so this means that the majority of high-ranking positions within the police are held by white people since most higher-up positions require a degree. Not to mention that the overwhelming majority of law enforcement are white men more than any other race/ethnicity and they are more likely statistically to go to school for law enforcement more than any other race/ethnicity. But does earning a degree make you a better police officer? That’s a trick question because we can’t assume that people who earned a degree went on to law enforcement only since Homeland security and Firefighting are also viable options for them. If they are in law enforcement, would they be working on the streets dealing with everyday citizens, or is that reserved for the average officer? Most likely, the officers that earned a degree are working from an office, dealing with paperwork or whatever their specific task is, to assume that they are the ones on the field is a stretch because they earned a degree to have a better position than the average man. Breaking down the mental walls of racism and prejudice within policing is going to be a challenge since the institution was originally created to catch runaway slaves and then to oppress them violently for many years during Jim Crow and the Civil rights movement. I believe that more minorities in positions of power within the highest sector of the police structure will start to drastically change the way policing is done in the United States.