Law Enforcement sample essay

Methodology

In recent years, a trend has developed in law enforcement to encourage education. Several major police departments across the world are encouraging officers to seek advanced education (either a bachelor’s or associate’s degree) before joining the force and many other departments are verbally encouraging their officers to seek continuing education in everything from additional languages to police procedures. This education is being promoted in addition to the required stint at a police academy for what amounts to an on-the-job training program. This study is to determine if education level makes a difference in job attainment and promotion levels.

The study discussed here will look at two measures of the impact of education on law enforcement. First, it will attempt to identify the impact that education has on recruitment and promotion within law enforcement. This will be a quantitative study to see if education leads to higher attainment in the field and more rapid promotion through the field. Second, it will attempt to measure the effect of education on the effectiveness of perceived effectiveness of the law enforcement officer. This portion of the study will be attempt to determine if education makes law enforcement officers better at what they do.

For the purpose of this quantitative study, formal education will be defined as an attainment of tertiary level of education either represented by a bachelor’s, associates, technical degree, or the completion of formal training programs developed by professional or educational institutions. The study excludes the completion of police officer training as an acquired formal education because it is a requirement of the profession and subject to independent standards.

Continuing education will then be defined as an acquisition of additional education beyond defined minimum standards of formal education (West Sussex County Council, 2006). In the event that an agency requires a minimum education level to achieve employment that fact will be noted as a factor within the study results. For example, the Illinois State Police require that applicants have attained at least a bachelor’s degree. In the event that other police agencies have similar requirements they will be noted in the study results.

In an attempt to answer these questions, the researcher will evaluate the education levels held by law enforcement officials at varying levels of responsibility. Law enforcement officers who receive their position by virtue of election rather than merit or appointment will be removed from the study (largely sheriffs) as this could skew the results in a manner that does not reflect the standards of professional law enforcement. In some forms of American law enforcement, the preeminent administrative office (sheriff or chief of police) is an elected position and based more on politics than on law enforcement ability.

Approach to Research

As the purpose of this study is to determine the effect of education on employability and promotion of law enforcement, one aspect of the study will be to determine the rate at which education affects promotion within the department. First, the study will attempt to determine if applicants hoping to become law enforcement officers are more likely to be hired if they have achieved additional education. Then, it will attempt to determine if that education leads to their faster promotion within the agency.

Within peer groups with like job assignments, the study will also attempt to determine if education affects leadership abilities or perceived leadership abilities. For example, the researcher will attempt to determine if among all patrol officers those with greater educational achievement are the de facto leaders within the organization. This will be a quantitative study done using employment records of several different police agencies.

Demographic data will be gathered from employment records and surveys will be submitted to law enforcement personnel to ask those in charge of hiring and promotion decision what factors they consider when selecting officers for promotion. The study will also use personal records to identify officers that have received commendations for meritorious service or been disciplined for inappropriate police behaviors as these factors should be included as indicators of the effectiveness of police officers as it relates to their education level.

In addition to the questionnaire submitted to police personnel, the researcher will conduct interviews with several individuals responsible for the selection and promotion of police officers to acquire anecdotal evidence regarding the usefulness of education in attaining and retaining employment in law enforcement. Once the data is compiled from the employment records, a multivariate analysis will be conducted to determine the impact of education on the promotional process. The study will necessarily look at other factors which may impact promotion rates including union membership, length of service, gender, and work history.

The second phase of the analysis will be qualitative in using the interviews and questionnaires from law enforcement officers and those who hire them to discuss the factors that contribute to preference in hiring and promotion. This section will be used to identify the second part of the research question, regarding the effectiveness of officers with additional education as opposed to those who do not have additional education. The study will also consider the data collected regarding merit commendations and disciplinary actions. This information will be used to track attitudes about educational importance. In the studies finding, this information will be compared to the actual data culled from personnel records to determine if perceptions and reality are coinciding.

Hypotheses

The primary research question is how the attainment of education affects the law enforcement officer in terms of employability, promotion and effectiveness on the job. To that end, the following questions have been identified as needing answers. Each question has been paired with the hypotheses it most closely ties to.

Q1. What are the standards used to determine the value of educational attainment?

H1° Inclusion of formal education standards improves standards of recruitment, retention, compensation, and career development of police officers.

H1α Inclusion of formal education standards does not improve standards of recruitment, retention, compensation, and career development of police officers.

H2° Formal education affects the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

H2α Formal education does not affect the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

H3° Existing educational programs are sufficient to support formal education requirements for officers.

H3α Existing educational programs are insufficient to support formal education requirements for officers.

H4° Existing promotional programs and retention rates reflect the value of educated officers

H4α Existing promotional programs and retention rates do not reflect the value of educated officers.

Another question that the research will attempt to resolve is whether formal education makes officers into leaders. This will be primarily determined by the discussion of the leadership among peer groups.

Q2. Is formal education a determinant of superiority amongst peer officers?

H2° Formal education affects the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

H2α Formal education does not affect the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

Q3. What motivational programs are in place to encourage higher or continuing education among police officers?

H2° Formal education affects the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

H2α Formal education does not affect the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

Q4. What are the determinants of successful employment of educated officers?

H1° Inclusion of formal education standards improves standards of recruitment, retention, compensation, and career development of police officers.

H1α Inclusion of formal education standards does not improve standards of recruitment, retention, compensation, and career development of police officers.

H2° Formal education affects the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

H2α Formal education does not affect the attitudes and perceptions of police officers.

Works Consulted

Bartel, Ann and David Lewin. “Wages and Unionism in the Public Sector: The Case of Police”, The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 63, No. 1. (Feb., 1981), pp. 53-59.

Lowenthal, Werner. “Continuing Education for Professionals: Voluntary or Mandatory?”, The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 52, No. 5. (Sep. – Oct., 1981), pp. 519-538.

Wellman, Carl. “Upholding Legal Rights” Ethics, Vol. 86, No. 1. (Oct., 1975), pp. 49-60.