New rule should help fill state trooper positions
For nearly two decades, the Pennsylvania state police have required applicants to have a high school diploma or GED and at least 60 college credits to be considered for enrollment at the academy.
It's a reasonable standard to help boost professionalism. And it serves a valuable pre-screening purpose, in that success in earlier aspects of education indicates the ability to succeed later.
Yet the force, faced with 532 vacancies and the prospect many otherwise sound applicants who don't meet the credit requirement, was wise to modify the rule.
The state police force is budgeted for 4,689 troopers but has a vacancy rate of about 11 percent due primarily to a cascade of retirements.
Under the new rules, the state police will waive the 60-credit requirement for any law enforcement officer who has worked for four years, and any military veteran who has served four years of active duty and has an honorable discharge. The state police will waive half of the 60-credit requirement for any police officer with two years of experience, or any veteran who served for two years and received an honorable discharge.
The waiver should not adversely affect the goals that the education requirement was enacted to achieve. All applicants still would have to pass written and oral entrance exams, physical fitness and psychological tests, a background investigation and polygraph exam to be considered. And many employers value on-the-job experience in related fields as being as valuable as education credits.
Waiving the requirement also creates a way for the state to provide more job opportunities for military veterans, who are under-employed at high rates despite having valuable job experience. And the troopers' positions are good opportunities, with a starting salary of $54,497 and a good benefit package.
The state police waiver is a good way to match opportunity to the employment marketplace.