Lackawanna City Council looks at changing police education requirements

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB)- A high school diploma might soon be all you need to take the Lackawanna Police Officer exam.

“I think there’s a lot of people out there that are capable of doing the job, that know the streets, that grew up in the city that can handle the job without having a college education,” said Joe Jerge, 3rd Ward Councilman.

Currently applicants need to have a high school diploma, or GED, and at least three years of active military experience, or have an Associate’s degree, or have completed at least 60 college credit hours.

Jerge said they are looking at changing it so you only have to be 21 years old and have a high school diploma, or GED, to take the test. They want to include a stipulation that to get a promotion once you’re on the force you’d need to complete those 60 hours of college credit.

He told News 4 the idea came up after a resident complained the police department isn’t diverse enough.

“This wasn’t just a means to add diversity to the force, it certainly one of the drivers to putting in on the agenda for approval, but we’d like to get a broader scope of individuals applying for the job,” said Jerge.

Community Activist John Ingram has concerns.

“We don’t need to lower the qualifications, we need to make sure the standards are set and set high to protect the residents,” said Ingram. “If you lower it that doesn’t help us, that hurts us.”

Jerge said they’re still working out the details.

“We’re not interested in hiring an 18 year old kid out of high school and giving them a badge and a gun and expect them to go out and do the job,” said Jerge.

The motion was tabled Tuesday evening for further study so the council can meet with the Mayor and Police Department.

Jerge said while they can make the suggestions, it’s ultimately up to the Mayor for a decision.

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