From the blog

U.S DOJ Recommends Police Hire People With Criminal Record

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a set of recommendations that suggesting that police departments consider applications of individuals who had a criminal record with “isolated” incidents or had committed crimes “a long time ago”, to bolster with the relaxed standards and to consider “room for redemption” in all hiring cases.

“Eligibility requirements for hiring need to be updated to reflect a more modern culture,” the DOJ wrote in the report. “It is important to note that this change does not translate to lowering standards but instead allowing for evolution of standards to align with the realities of policing in the 21st century. In addition to identifying candidates who meet the minimum standards, agencies should seek to attract those who possess character traits and values that align with their community.”

The report added that candidates with a “serious criminal history” or “serious misuse of alcohol or illegal drugs” or “a history of violence,” should not be hired by police departments.

The DOJ also recommended that police departments should have potential hires answer “scenario-based” questions based on videos of officers, stop requiring polygraph tests for potential hires and use new recruits as civilian employees before they are fully vetted for police work by the department. The agency also stressed that departments should place less emphasis on physically preparing officers for patrolling and should train new officers to use “positive reinforcement” instead of physical responses during police calls.

“The recruitment and retention crisis is the number one issue I hear about from our state, Tribal, and local law enforcement partners across the country,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a press release. “The Justice Department knows that hiring and holding onto a highly qualified, committed, and diverse cadre of policing professionals is critical to public safety and police-community trust, and we are committed to working with our partners to address this crisis.”

Police departments across the country have had difficulty recruiting and retaining officers in the past few years, especially as more officers have retired or quit than those who have entered the workforce. The DOJ attributed these difficulties to a “tightening labour market,” but admitted that “frustrations” with police officers and “concerns about officer safety” had contributed to the decline in people willing to join the police force.

Departments reported in January that they received 50% more resignations in 2022 when compared to 2019, and the number of total sworn police officers in the workforce has decreased by 5% since 2019, according to the Police Executive Research Forum.