The response for some organizations to the challenges of hiring is to lower standards. We are seeing the same thing in some educational circles. Lowering standards sets everyone up for failure.
When you lower standards under the guise of helping certain groups of people get hired, the message is very clear; “We don’t believe you are smart enough and capable enough of meeting these standards so we are going to dumb them down for you.” You are in essence telling people they lack the intelligence and required work ethic, and are therefore incapable of achieving the current standard.
If your standards were valid then why would you lower them? Doing so means that your organization will suffer, the people you hire will likely struggle and the people you serve will not get the service they deserve. It also shines a potentially negative light on people you do hire, regardless of how qualified and deserving they are.
Rather than lowering the standard ask yourself what you can do to help people better prepare to meet, and exceed the standard.
If meeting the fitness standards is an issue then telling people they need to get in shape or work out more is useless information. What if instead, you developed a series of training videos and sample workout programs to help people learn how to train to develop the type of fitness that will allow them to pass your test and be successful in the academy. Another option would be to direct them to https://www.tacticalfunctionaltraining.com where they provide online training programs based on the POST standards for every state. They also have options for existing officers.
If writing skills are an issue and people struggle to pass the written component of the test then have your report writing instructors develop an online, or multiple sessions in person program to help people develop those skills as part of the pre-hiring process. You could also work with your local post secondary institution to help develop and writing skills for note taking and report writing course. This would benefit the people in the hiring process and throughout their careers.
If verbal communication skills during the recruiting process interviews are an issue then put together a course to help people develop skills those skills. Enhanced verbal communication skills will continue to pay benefits throughout their careers.
There are programs created to help people prepare for and be successful on their SAT and LSAT exams. There are numerous training programs available now to help people be successful with the promotional process so why not develop similar programs to help people with the hiring process?
The US Navy has developed programs to help people interested in becoming Navy SEALS prepare to make it through BUD/S. They did not lower the standard; they simply provided some skills up front to better prepare people.
The Edmonton Police Service developed The Mentoring Academy, which is a multiple week program to help deferred applicants develop skills and knowledge to make them better applicants and to help them be successful in the academy. They did not lower the standard; they simply provided some skills up front to better prepare people.
Continuing to use 20 and 30 year old recruiting and hiring practices is not the answer to the hiring problem. Complaining is not the answer either. You can complain about the lack of qualified candidates. You can complain that people who are applying cannot meet the standards. You can complain or you can do something about it. When I say do something about it, I mean do something other than lower the standards. Lowering your standards is a recipe for disaster for everyone. It is time to think differently and find new ways to help people who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement to be successful without lowering your standards.
Note: In my opinion removing the requirement to have a 3 or 4 year degree to get hired as a law enforcement professional is not lowering the standard. I believe it is an arbitrary requirement that gets in the way of hiring some highly qualified candidates. You can check out my blog post from July 2020 titled, Some thoughts on the calls for better educated cops, to see my rationale for this position.
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