Police Departments Lower Standards Due to Shortages while Threatening to Fire Bible-Believing Officer
Following the tragic death of Tyre Nichols during a January 7 traffic stop by officers of the Memphis Police Department, in which Nichols was beaten so severely by the officers that he died from his injuries three days later, reports have surfaced that two of the officers involved in Nichols’s death were hired after the department lowered its recruiting standards.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Officers Tadarrius Bean and Demetrius Haley, who have since been fired and charged in Nichols’s death, were hired in August 2020 two years after the department dropped its requirement for new recruits to have at least an associate’s degree or 54 college credit hours.
According to law enforcement official Karan Parmar, “[T]he 5 charged officers weren’t hired through the usual structured PD hiring process. City leaders felt the existing process was too strict and kept certain people from getting jobs at the department. City leaders began their own hiring process and then pushed new hires into the agency, bypassing the testing procedures in place at the department. … All 5 of the charged officers were hired by the City, and didn’t go through the rigorous PD testing process.”
The Memphis Police Department’s hiring practices fit a nationwide trend in law enforcement of lowering hiring standards. In March 2022, the Chicago Police department announced it was waiving a college credit requirement for new recruits. Philadelphia also dropped its college requirement for new hires in recent years as has New Orleans. The trend is being linked to a nationwide shortage in officers.
Experts worry that the lowering of police recruiting standards could lead to unqualified individuals being hired, which could consequently lead to more tragedies like the deaths of Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, and others who have died under controversial circumstances while in police custody.
“They’re desperate. They want police officers,” Mike Alcazar, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired NYPD detective, told The New York Post. “They’re going through it, they check off some boxes, saying, ‘Ok, they’re good enough, get them on.’”
“Police departments have to take the screening process of candidates to be police officers seriously and not rush to hire officers that might not be qualified,” Alcazar argued.
Meanwhile, officers like Jacob Kersey of the Port Wentworth Police Department in Georgia who otherwise have spotless work records are being pulled off duty and threatened with termination for expressing a biblical view of marriage on social media.
On January 2, Kersey tweeted from his personal account while off-duty: “God designed marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church. That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.”
“I was led to believe I was being fired originally,” Kersey said on “Washington Watch” last week. “They told me to turn in everything that belonged to the city. So I had a long, restless night trying to figure out if I really wanted to lose my dream job over this. … And then a week later, when they brought me back, they told me that I could come back to work. But they’re creating a new department policy that says that if someone, somewhere is offended by anything else that I say from here on out, then I could be fired for it.”
Kersey ultimately resigned. “I did not believe that my department had my back,” he said. “I didn’t really want to go back and play that game and just wait to be fired because I know it would happen at some point and I just didn’t think it wise as dangerous of a job as law enforcement is.”
Speaking to The New York Post, Kersey explained that his track record as an officer was impeccable. “I joined the police department, and for over eight months, I only heard great things about my work,” he said. “People had nothing but good things to say about my work as a police officer.”
Kersey was inspired to join the force after being witness to the kindness officers showed him during his childhood when they were called to his family’s house on multiple occasions due to domestic problems. The police “made such a massive difference in my life at a very young age,” he said.
Despite being disappointed about losing his “dream job,” Kersey does not hold bitterness toward the Port Wentworth Police Department.
“In America, most of us will not be called to face physical death for our beliefs,” he said. “But we might be called to face the death of our dreams, we might be called to face the death of our reputation, or we might be called to have other people think bad things about us. But what’s important is what God thinks about us.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.