New Bill Proposed in Oregon to Raise Police Education Requirements

( – A new bill was introduced requiring law enforcement officers to undergo at least two years of higher education in order to become a cop.

After the brutal beating and death of Tyre Nichols, which sparked nationwide protests following the release of the footage, the national conversation once again hones in on law enforcement qualifications.

Introduced last month, the bill would reverse the trend of lowering standards of hiring by making it mandatory for police to complete two years of higher education for departments that have less than 50 officers, and a whole bachelor’s degree for those with over 50, also applying to corrections, reserve, parole, and probation officers.

The education requirements of police officers have been an ongoing debate for many years within departments, and one of the major concerns now is that raising such requirements would increase staffing shortages, an issue facing nearly every police department across the nation. Another concern is that it could make it more difficult to recruit candidates of diverse backgrounds because of their economic differences.

The bill’s chief sponsor is not a Republican, as most would suspect, but a Democrat: Sen. Lew Frederick of Oregon. Frederick spoke about some of the benefits of the bill, stating that officers would be “learning… reading about other communities… reading about other people… getting a sense of respect for people who [they] do not know,” which he believes can only improve their skillset on the job and their interactions with the communities they serve.

These requirements are usually determined by individual departments or municipalities, but the new bill would set the education requirements into state law. Currently, roughly 80% of departments require only a high school diploma or equivalent GED, with only 10% requiring some college credit, and %1 a full bachelor’s degree. A lot of police agencies that require college credits will waive these requirements if the candidate already has law enforcement experience or a military background.

Following the pandemic and the death of George Floyd, policing has become a less attractive career choice and shortages abound across the United States, leading to many agencies dropping degree requirements.

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