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date: 10 December 2022

Higher Education in Law Enforcement and Racial Disparity in Arrestslocked

Higher Education in Law Enforcement and Racial Disparity in Arrestslocked

  • Thaddeus L. Johnson, Thaddeus L. JohnsonDepartment of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University
  • Natasha N. Johnson, Natasha N. JohnsonDepartment of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University
  • Sarah SepanikSarah SepanikDepartment of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University
  •  and Maria H. LeeMaria H. LeeGeorgia State University

Summary

Raising the educational standards for police officers represents a perennial police reform theme in the United States. Among other benefits, proponents herald college degree requirements as key to improving the quality and fairness of policing outcomes, including the chief formal response to crime: arresting suspected lawbreakers. However, the evidence base regarding college education requirements’ consequences for agency arrest behaviors is formative for various reasons, namely, the absence of studies examining whether these policies contribute to racially equitable arrest outcomes.

The presented data show steeper decreases in the racial gap in Black and White people arrested for degree-requiring agencies compared to nondegree-requiring agencies between 2000 and 2016. Albeit encouraging news, the disparity rate for agencies with a college standard remains relatively higher. While what is implied is that college degree requirements alone will not resolve racial disparities in police arrests, it is premature to draw concrete conclusions about this often taken-for-granted association until more rigorous research is conducted.

Subjects

  • Policing
  • Research Methods

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