Mayor Suggests Lowering Standards for Police Officers
Should people with a felony be allowed to be cops? Last Edited: Friday, 18 Jan 2008, 5:40 PM CST Created: Friday, 18 Jan 2008, 5:40 PM CST Kansas City News
Good idea? Blog about it.
KANSAS CITY, MO. -- The Kansas City Missouri mayor is looking for creative ideas on ways to recruit more minority cops. So, Mayor Mark Funkhouser said lowering the standards to be a cop may be the solution.
Mayor Funkhouser said why not let people with a criminal record be a police officer?
Barely 11 percent of Kansas City's police officers are African American. The police chief and the mayor say that's not enough. At a town hall meeting Wednesday, Mayor Funkhouser suggested lowering standards to recruit more minority police.
"At some point we've got to, I believe, allow people who have a felony on their record to go ahead and be a police officer when they pass various hurdles," said Funkhouser.
The Mayor said this is just an idea... a way to provoke debate to come up with creative ideas to hire more minority cops. But is it realistic?
Ken Christopher is a criminal justice professor with Park University. He said, "The more you can attract candidates you can reliably trust the better off you are."
Christopher said there are other ways to recruit minorities without compromising standards.
"To say you're willing to take on people who've committed felony violations is pretty much outside the mainstream about what police hiring practices are about," said Christopher.
Rich Lockhart with the KCMO Police Department said, "I think everybody shares the same concern we do and certainly we appreciate everyone helping us come up to solutions to the problem."
Right now, to be a police officer you have to meet state standards. A spokesperson with the Missouri Department of Public Safety said regardless of decisions made at the local level, you still have to be licensed by the state.
To change those requirements, means changing state law which now says you can't have a criminal history.
Another requirement is passing a written exam, something a number of candidates struggle with. That's why the police department holds tutoring sessions to help more candidates become police officers.
Heather Claybrook, FOX 4 News