Northern Essex’s Glenn Pushes for Police Higher Ed. Requirements at Statehouse

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn and Chief Operating Officer Mike McCarthy testified at the Statehouse in support of higher education requirements for police officers in Massachusetts on July 11, 2019. (Courtesy photograph)

Northern Essex Community College leaders were in Boston late last week to push for higher education requirements for police officers across the Commonwealth, delivering testimony during a hearing in front of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security at the Statehouse.

The proposed bill backed by Glenn and NECC Chief Operating Officer Mike McCarthy, who joined Glenn at the Statehouse Thursday, comes at a time when the Merrimack Valley is working to manage a shortage in available police officers. Last month, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini sought to hire part-time officers to help ease the deficit.

During his appearance in Boston last week, Glenn supported a bill presented by Rep. Paul A. Tucker and Sen. Michael O. Moore, that would require candidates for full-time police positions to have an associate degree in criminal justice, among other suggested higher education alternatives. Currently, there are no education requirements for officers in the Commonwealth, except for those covered by Civil Service, who must have a high school diploma, equivalency certificate or three years’ experience in the armed forces.

“The work performed by police officers in Massachusetts is becoming more complex…” according to Glenn. “Several national studies have demonstrated […] that college educated police officers have better communication skills, a better comprehension of civil rights issues from multiple perspectives, receive fewer complaints and disciplinary actions, and are less likely to use deadly force, among other benefits.”

The bill is still moving through the legislative process, and will next be heard by the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus—of which Haverhill state Rep. Andy Vargas is a member—on July 31.

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