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  • In policing, too big a bump for military veterans

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ed...tary_veterans/

    In policing, too big a bump for military veterans

    MILITARY VETERANS who pursue careers on local police departments bring a lot to the job, including specialized skills and an appreciation for chain of command. But the outsized boost they receive on the state Civil Service exam - a score of 70 shoots them to the top of the list - isn’t necessary for the most deserving veterans and serves to push out more suitable candidates.

    Veterans comprised just a small number of test takers for police jobs 20 years ago. But with limited opportunities available in the private sector, more returning veterans are seeking jobs on local police departments. Some police managers are becoming uneasy about the men and women who exchange their camouflage uniforms for blue ones. While policing is a perfect fit for some vets, there is also the potential for giving preference to veterans who might lack education or be suffering from stress or aggression issues.

    The Boston police recently suspended Officer Justin Barrett following his racist e-mail rant in which he likened Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. to a “banana-eating jungle monkey.’’ Deep in the vitriolic e-mail, which upbraided a Globe columnist for her criticism of Gates’s rash arrest by Cambridge police, Barrett wrote, “You need to serve a day with the infantry and get swarmed by black gnats while manning your sector.’’ The National Guard also suspended Barrett, who had served in Iraq.

    At national conferences of police chiefs, concerns about veterans entering police work have been discussed quietly, says Northeastern University criminologist Jack McDevitt. Police managers don’t want to stigmatize veterans or appear unpatriotic. But police departments have taken notice of the trend.

    Of the 269 officers who joined the Boston police since November 2006, 43 were military veterans. But almost one-third of the 62-member class of May 2008 arrived with veterans preference. The surge can be seen statewide. From 1986 to 1990, only about 3 percent of the candidates sitting for the police exam were veterans, according to the state’s Human Resources Division. From 2005 to 2008, that figure jumped to 14 percent.

    Giving veterans favorable treatment on police exams is a concrete way to honor those who made sacrifices for the country. But setting the Civil Service bar at a relaxed 70 isn’t in the best interest of the public, especially since 2004 - when the Army relaxed recruitment standards and increased the number of recruits scoring in the lowest acceptable range on service aptitude tests. Providing a few extra points for veterans on the state Civil Service test, which is the practice for police promotional exams, would seem a smarter policy.

    The 1960s era was the nadir in urban policing, when residents commonly viewed police officers as occupying forces. The neighborhood policing strategies of the mid-1990s helped to lower crime by stressing common goals with residents. Cops with a militaristic mindset could undo those gains. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis says veterans often are among the best performers in the police academy. But he worries that their skills may not transfer smoothly to the streets of Boston.

    “We’re not trying to take a hill,’’ says Davis. “We’re trying to communicate with people.’’

    A recent Rand Corporation study found that nearly 20 percent of military service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of post-traumatic stress or depression. But psychological screening for new police recruits isn’t, as a rule, finely tuned. And hateful attitudes like those in Barrett’s e-mail aren’t likely to be uncovered at all. Davis says he wants better screening procedures that help to determine a potential recruit’s suitability for police work, not just a search for signs of serious mental illness. Other police commissioners would be wise to follow suit.

    Meanwhile, the rush is on to recruit vets for police work. Jason Abend, who heads the National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association, says the organization “strongly recommends’’ hiring vets, citing their skills. And the Baltimore Police Department recently established a formal agreement with the Army to steer returning vets into the police force.

    One way to ensure that returning veterans have the exposure to new ideas and time to acclimate would be to require at least two years of college for anyone looking to join the force. Currently, a high school diploma, GED, or three years of military service is sufficient to join most police departments in Massachusetts. But the job has become too complex for anyone with a minimal education, warns A. Wayne Sampson, director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.

    “We believe every officer coming onto the job should have a college education,’’ says Sampson.

    Police departments need to deal openly with these issues without fear of appearing disloyal to veterans. For every police call that might require special weapons and tactical expertise, there are likely thousands that call for defusing tense situations and finding peaceful resolutions. Police forces may appear paramilitary in nature, but their mission is civil to the core.
    5-10 points for military preference seems fair, but 30 points?
    Those who believe, ye shall receive.

  • #2
    Hmmm, I don't remember being told I would recieve any points for being a Veteran.
    "I would rather live one day as a Lion, than a thousand years as a Sheep."

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    • #3
      I was told, informally, that I would pretty much be guaranteed to make it past the self-screening questionnaire to the interview board, but that was it - I am responsible for everything at the board and further on (still waiting to find out officially how I did at the board).

      As a vet, I appreciate any recognition of my service, but I don't want a free ride either. Judging by some people I've seen in the Army, not every vet is necessarily a good fit for law enforcement (in my opinion), just because they have military experience.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ten08
        I disagree totally, military training is more of an asset than college and the fact that someone has done his job under fire is proof positive.

        When I did hiring there was the VRA (Veterans Readjustment Act) which allowed me to disregard the list and hire a vet. And I did
        You are saying that any veteran scoring a 70 on the exam is guaranteed to be a better candidate than anyone with no military experience?

        I understand that military service indicates certain ability/etc, but there are plenty of good officers with no prior military service. Should veterans be given special consideration? Certainly. Should they be give an automatic 30%? I don't think so.
        Last edited by JLee; 09-04-2009, 11:57 AM.
        summer - winter - work

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        • #5
          The State of Alabama awards an Honorably Discharged Veteran, five(5) Veteran's Preference Points on entry level Merit System (Civil Service) Exams. The Veteran does not automatically move to the head of the Eligibility Register as a result of his/her service.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ten08
            Yes and yes

            I've seen Police Officers break under fire, I've also seen them cry. I don't need to have to worry about who is backing me up. I'm not iinterested in someone coming in telling me how to run my show because of somethiing his proffesor told him.
            And I have seen Infantryman break as well under Fire. No one can be for sure how they will react when the "pucker factor" comes to play. Everyone has their own opinion on college grads vs. Military service. There are too many variables to compare the two. I for one did both. Got my degree and my vet points. Vet points didn't mean squat at the local leve, as it does with the Govt. My degree did help me at the local level with pay, etc.

            Either way, kudos to both. I agree and disagree with the way they utilize vet points for certain jobs and who gets to the top of the list first, etc.
            "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

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            • #7
              Veteran's preference exists as a reward for those who have sacrificed their time and put themselves in harm's way in service to this country. It is granted across the board for all manner of government jobs.

              It has nothing to do with whether veterans make better police officers than college graduates or any other group of applicants. That is a totally different (and pointless) debate.
              Before science, it was believed that autumn was caused by Chuck Norris simultaneously roundhouse kicking every tree on the planet.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ten08
                Yes and yes

                I've seen Police Officers break under fire, I've also seen them cry. I don't need to have to worry about who is backing me up. I'm not iinterested in someone coming in telling me how to run my show because of somethiing his proffesor told him.
                I'm not too keen on automatically being considered an inferior officer simply because I have no prior military service. Quite a few guys in my department are veterans. Rather than automatically assuming that I am an inferior and incapable officer just because I have no prior military service, they gave me a chance. I'm glad I don't work with you.
                summer - winter - work

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by irishlad2nv View Post
                  And I have seen Infantryman break as well under Fire. No one can be for sure how they will react when the "pucker factor" comes to play. Everyone has their own opinion on college grads vs. Military service. There are too many variables to compare the two. I for one did both. Got my degree and my vet points. Vet points didn't mean squat at the local leve, as it does with the Govt. My degree did help me at the local level with pay, etc.

                  Either way, kudos to both. I agree and disagree with the way they utilize vet points for certain jobs and who gets to the top of the list first, etc.
                  You do realize that most vets are not combat veterans, don't you?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by just joe View Post
                    You do realize that most vets are not combat veterans, don't you?
                    Your point?
                    "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JayhawkFan View Post


                      5-10 points for military preference seems fair, but 30 points?



                      Sounds like someone's not a veteran.







                      lol


                      j/k

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JLee View Post
                        I'm not too keen on automatically being considered an inferior officer simply because I have no prior military service. Quite a few guys in my department are veterans. Rather than automatically assuming that I am an inferior and incapable officer just because I have no prior military service, they gave me a chance. I'm glad I don't work with you.



                        There not saying your inferior........there just saying that the veteran's are better then you.





                        lol. j/k


                        What they are doing is "rewarding" the veterans for their years of service, not saying that they are better then anyone else.


                        If Susie gets an apple for spelling a word right, they aren't saying she's automatically better then you, they are simply rewarding Susie for getting the word right.


                        .

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ten08
                          Yes and yes

                          I've seen Police Officers break under fire, I've also seen them cry. I don't need to have to worry about who is backing me up. I'm not iinterested in someone coming in telling me how to run my show because of somethiing his proffesor told him.

                          My professor, taught me how to spell professor.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HEDP View Post
                            There not saying your inferior........there just saying that the veteran's are better then you.





                            lol. j/k


                            What they are doing is "rewarding" the veterans for their years of service, not saying that they are better then anyone else.


                            If Susie gets an apple for spelling a word right, they aren't saying she's automatically better then you, they are simply rewarding Susie for getting the word right.


                            .
                            I was responding to ten08.
                            summer - winter - work

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                            • #15
                              The Iowa DOC has been adding 5 points to the raw test score for veterans for many years. They now add 5 points for COMBAT theater veterans for a total of 10
                              My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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