When Even The Policemen Have Criminal Records

How crooked does your city have to be when 1/3 of your police recruits have a criminal record? As crooked as Atlanta apparently,

More than one-third of recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have been arrested or cited for a crime, according to a review of their job applications. The arrests ranged from minor offenses such as shoplifting to violent charges including assault. More than one-third of the officers had been rejected by other law enforcement agencies, and more than half of the recruits admitted using marijuana.

“On its face, it’s troubling and disturbing,” said Vincent Fort, a state senator from Atlanta. “It would be very troubling that people might be hitting the streets to serve and protect and they have histories that have made them unqualified to serve on other departments.”

But Atlanta police say it’s not so simple. Officials have been trying without success for more than a decade to grow the department

to 2,000 officers, an effort hurt by this year’s budget crisis. With competition for recruits intense among law enforcement agencies, Atlanta has had to make concessions.

“We would like, in an ideal world, to see every applicant with a clean record, but obviously that’s not reality,” said Atlanta police Lt. Elder Dancy, who runs the department’s recruitment unit. “I don’t think you’ll find any departments who hire only applicants with squeaky-clean records.”

I’m not going to say that a police department should NEVER hire someone with a criminal record — but keep in mind, we are talking about people whose job is going to be to enforce the law.

When you get to a point when 1/3 of a city’s “Police Academy graduates have been arrested or cited for a crime,” it certainly increases the chances of police corruption and it actually undermines people’s confidence in the police.

That’s bad news and it’s why the Atlanta Police Department and any other police departments with similar policies need to make a change in the way they do business immediately.

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