Who the Police are Targeting for Jobs and Why

Written by Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.

If you are looking for a job in law enforcement it might be helpful to know a little bit about the groups of people that police target for jobs with their recruiting efforts. According to government research (BJS, 2012), law enforcement agencies actively target certain groups of potential applicants for police positions. While the most often targeted groups of people include women and minorities, police agencies are increasingly looking at groups with unique skill sets, backgrounds and credentials.

As shown in the Table below, law enforcement agencies have historically targeted not only women and minorities, but also people with law enforcement experience and military backgrounds. What is more interesting in the Table is the growing police practice of actively seeking people who are multilingual and those who hold four-year college degrees. As the data show a significant percentage of police agencies, especially state police organizations, are looking for these diverse skills and unique credentials among the people they recruit into the occupation. As the American population becomes more diverse, law enforcement executives are beginning to recognize that their agencies must not only reflect society’s diversity, but that they must hire people with the skills necessary to effectively respond to the needs of a diverse population. Being multi-lingual and possessing a college degree go hand-in-hand with getting a job in policing and having police forces that are more responsive to the communities they serve.

Do you need a college degree to be a cop

Victor E. Kappeler, Ph.D.
Associate Dean and Foundation Professor
School of Justice Studies
Eastern Kentucky University


BJS (2012). Hiring and Retention of State and Local Law Enforcement Officers, 2008 –Statistical Tables. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Published on October 16, 2013