DOJ Calls On Police Departments To Loosen Standards

The Justice Department is recommending that police departments should reconsider their restrictions on hiring individuals with criminal histories or former drug use to help address officer shortages, the Daily Caller reported.

In recommendations from the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) released last Tuesday, the Justice Department said local police departments should consider applications from those with criminal records from a “long time ago” or involving “isolated” incidents.

According to the DOJ, police departments could also increase personnel by “relaxing” their standards on an applicant’s previous drug use and allowing for “room for redemption.”

The document, titled “Recruitment and Retention for the Modern Law Enforcement Agency,” also suggests that police departments must update their hiring practices “to reflect a more modern culture,” arguing that this would not mean “lowering standards” but instead would allow for an “evolution of standards to align with the realities of policing in the 21st century.”

The DOJ believes that such recommendations would help to identify candidates that “meet the minimum standards” while also attracting candidates that “possess character traits and values that align with their community.”

In its recommendations, the Justice Department maintains that this should not include accepting candidates with a “serious criminal history” or “misuse of alcohol or illegal drugs,” along with those with a “history of violence.”

The DOJ also urged police departments to stop using polygraph testing on candidates and instead recommends that departments have candidates answer a series of “scenario-based” questions. It also recommends that police departments allow applicants to work as civilian employees until the vetting process is completed.

According to the recommendations, police departments should de-emphasize physical preparedness for officers while training recruits on using “positive reinforcement rather than physical responses.”

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta explained in a press release that the number one issue among state and local law enforcement is “the recruitment and retention crisis,” and said the Justice Department is committed to working with police departments to address the crisis.