In the wake of controversial and widely publicized incidents involving the use of deadly force by the police against racial and ethnic minorities, President Obama appointed the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015 to propose ways to improve policing in the U.S.
One of the task force’s many recommendations called for efforts to encourage higher education for police officers. Underpinning this recommendation was an optimistic assumption that having a college education makes police officers more sensitive and responsive to the distinctive needs of the communities they serve. But is this true?
Despite the fact that the proportion of college-educated officers has risen 11-fold since 1960, researchers know surprisingly little about whether and how such officers differ from their less educated peers in their day-to-day encounters with citizens.