PRESS RELEASE: January 4, 2022
Police Reform Begins By Hiring The Best Candidates
In the raging debate over police reform, the one topic that has received the least attention is police hiring. It is perhaps the most critical.
The current system of police hiring in Massachusetts is a hodge-podge of diverse policies and practices created by the individual preferences of its 350 cities and towns. Overlaying this system are state standards, that eliminate whole classes of qualified people by granting preferential treatment to less qualified individuals. Local jurisdictions are notorious for the disparity in their approaches to police hiring. Some favor rigorous background investigation, others do not. Some favor educated candidates, most have not. Whole classes of qualified individuals have been eliminated from consideration in communities that fall under the state’s antiquated civil service system. The system grants absolute preference to police candidates, who are military veterans, provided they meet the most minimal of criteria, eliminating many highly qualified non- veterans. Approximately half of the state’s municipalities fall under civil service.
While state oversight of police hiring is necessary to protect against local political interference and bias, the state must upgrade its oversight system to reflect the primary policy objective: hiring the best qualified and most suitable candidates. The absolute veteran’s preference policy must be revised to allow non veterans the opportunity to compete and it is also time to implement a higher education requirement as a qualification for hire.
The Massachusetts Association For Professional Law Enforcement has great hopes for the newly created POST commission created by the 2020 police reform law. This commission has begun the process of standardizing background investigations, physical and psychological screening, and physical agility standards. Our organization supports these efforts. The implementation of these changes are important steps for restoring public trust in policing and ensuring that the type of persons best suited for this most critical public service are consistently selected for hire.
Authorized By: Dennis J. Galvin President