Friday, December 16, 2005

I wouldn't qualify for this job

Stay in school, kids, and maybe one day you can be an Arlington cop. An item last week from the Fort Worth Star Telegram ("Facing Stiffer Competition, Texas Police Expand Recruiting Efforts," Dec. 4) declared that heightened demand for law enforcement and baby-boomer retirements are making it hard to find cadets, even when departments offer high salaries (I'd guess extended National Guard stays due to the Iraq war also have something to do with it):
The Arlington Police Department is one of the few law enforcement agencies in the state to require a bachelor's degree. "The starting salary is pretty good for a student coming right out of college," said Williams, adding that starting pay is $42,600. "There are other jobs that pay better, but with the economy the way it is, a lot of larger companies are laying off. There is always stability in law enforcement."
Stability indeed. On the flip side, I remember listening to a judge last year in a bar in Veracruz tell me that cops in Mexico make about $150-175 American per month and were expected to make up the rest through La Mordida. Of course, even on this side of the border, some cops will find ways to make a little extra on the side. ;-) The last educational institution to grace me with a diploma (which I couldn't lay my hands on if you put a gun to my head) was Robert E. Lee High in Tyler, TX, so I definitely wouldn't qualify, but in the scheme of things, a cop's pay sounds pretty good in Arlington.


Anonymous said...

don't buy this bull from someone who knows what the difficulties are.

The FBI and every other federal,state and local law enforcement agency is having the same problem.

It's not about qualifications or other agencies recruiting. It's about drug use and good applicants who lie; say they only experimented; then flunk a polygraph on the use questions.

This unusual predicament is only going to get worse because the pool of non-drug users is almost non-existent.

The drug use questions are on every federal, state, and local police application. Most good applicants don't apply out of fear and the application process actually encourages deception.

The pool of applicants for everyone in law enforcement is small but it's not because of agency competition.

Anonymous said...

The previous commenter wrote:
"It's about drug use and good applicants who lie; say they only experimented; then flunk a polygraph on the use questions."

Are you saying that most of the good applicants are hardcore drug users who pass the drug screen, but flunk the polygraph?

Generally speaking, I'd believe a good applicant over a polygraph any day.

Anonymous said...

I think he refers to the fact that most law enforcement agencies ask on their candidate applications whether you've ever used drugs, and many exclude you if you answer yes. Since about 100 million US adults have smoked pot sometime in their lives, that excludes a huge number of potential applicants who would otherwise do a fine job.

Assuming that's the argument, it's analagous to a company that only hires male executives, complains there are few good candidates, but by policy has excluded half the qualified applicants.

markm said...

So what they're really selecting for is the ability to pass a polygraph?

Anonymous said...


the answer is "yes". And, police department interviews are as silly as the polygraph.

The issue is that departments have yet to acknowledge that the polygraph is a poor tool for selecting employees. My guess (yeah, i haven't done the research but I'd love to see it) is that agencies with extreme hiring qualifications have about the same ratio of "problem children" as do agencies without.

In 1997 I sat through a law enforcement "new supervisors" course, and we had three different police department chiefs come in for an intense Q&A (medium and small sized agencies...veteran chiefs). They all agreed that regardless of their scrutinization of applicants, they ended up with about the same problems from about the same amount of people.