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Police hiring and training standards can be a game changer

| March 22, 2018

Information circulating that trained officers did not intervene while on scene at the Parkland shooting, with new footage showing the on-site officer appearing to be standing outside of a building, begs the question, “Who should be an officer?” Randy Petersen, senior researcher at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, went on air with WND to share his policy recommendations regarding the Parkland shooting.

In his interview, Petersen advocated for being more selective when hiring officers, limiting the honor to those who can successfully manage high-stress situations, increasing the chance of successful interception in cases where an active shooter may be present.  In an article published by Fox News, Petersen said it’s important to ensure that the people chosen to serve our communities are fit for the job. He explained that chosen officers “must be compassionate, capable of thinking critically, not easily offended or excited, physically and mentally fit, and capable of using restraint or force (including deadly force) if needed.” By upping the standards of who can become, and remain, a police officer we can improve reactions to crisis situations and increase public safety.

To sharpen those qualities that ideal police officers would have and to weed out individuals who are unable to perform, Petersen advocates for increased simulations of high stress, physically intensive situations. Petersen advocates for making certain that police who do eventually come into contact with active shooters are well-prepared and are the exact people we know will act properly when situations do arise. He explains the consequences of putting someone poorly chosen or inadequately prepared for their role in these situation, stating “a lack of confidence can get you to a point where an officer either fails to act or overreacts.”

Generally thought of as protectors of the public, one would hope that the officers we rely on to keep the peace are the best available. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. We shouldn’t wait for more crises to happen before changing our standards on police recruitment.  As Petersen points out in his article, there are plenty of police officers that fit this model already on our streets, doing exactly what we expect of them.


JAMIE SCHERBEH is an intern with the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She’s a Senior Political Science major at Texas Lutheran University. Jamie has been an active member of her campus organizations participating in Student Government, Philosophy Club, Ethics Bowl, and a campus investment club. She has prior experience from working for AmeriCorps, interning at the Seguin Police Department and Donor Fundraising, and serving as a research assistant to a professor.