The Boise Police Department (BPD) strongly values the benefits of higher education and intends to make BPD not just an employment option, but a vehicle for furthering higher education and personal growth.
“While we value higher education, we understand that given different life circumstances it may not be a viable or logical option for many people to attend college prior to pursuing a police career,” said Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee.
In early 2021, BPD formed the Training, Education, and Development Division (TEDD) to ensure officers receive best-in-class training as well as ongoing education throughout their career. As part of this effort, we explored police hiring practices from other agencies and found that BPD’s requirement for police officers to have 60 college credits before applying limited both the size and ability for the applicant pool to accurately reflect the community. This requirement is also a higher standard than what Idaho POST requires to be a police officer. Further exploration of this issue led us to create a new plan which removes the college credit requirement for new hires and instead creates a pathway for personal development and higher education.
As evidence of the merits of such an approach, our current Deputy Chief, Tammany Brooks, received the opportunity to become a police officer after receiving his GED. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. Through continuing education, he graduated from several police leadership schools and went on to have a very successful career in Antioch, CA, and now Boise. We would like to give individuals in Boise that same opportunity.
“More than the completion of formalized education, what matters most about an incoming officer is their content of character, their moral fiber, and ethical fortitude. First and foremost, we are looking for applicants who are committed to equally serving and protecting every member of our community. We need applicants who bring compassionate leadership, creative problem solving, and a heart for service. We can provide them with the training and skills to serve in a career as a police officer,” said Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee.
There are still many minimum qualifications applicants for police officer must meet. In lieu of the college credits, we will be looking for at least three years of full-time employment or other relevant life experience. If they are hired, we will guide them toward getting 60 college credits in 5 years. TEDD has established a partnership with the College of Western Idaho (CWI) that will allow officers to gain college credit for their academy training at BPD. TEDD has also worked with CWI to identify options for officers to continue their education at CWI and potentially transfer to BSU or another affiliated college/university to work toward a bachelor’s degree. We believe this approach will also help us increase the size and diversity of applicants in our applicant pool at a time when we are seeing fewer candidates.
“Policing is an evolving profession, and we recognize the need to hire people who are willing to adapt and learn along the way. During our hiring process we want to equally value someone who attended college and someone whose eagerness to provide or explore took them in a direction other than college,” said Chief Lee. “By hiring individuals who intend to continue advancing their education we are keeping in line with the goals of the Training, Education, and Development Division as they work with officers throughout their career.”