My former classmate at Penn, Simone Weichselbaum, wrote for The Marshall Project:
Non-citizens with legal status can enlist in the U.S. military and risk their lives in combat. But in most states they cannot be employed as police officers. Now dozens of police chiefs and sheriffs, alarmed at the shrinking numbers of qualified recruits, want to see the long-standing prohibition lifted.
“I don’t think someone’s citizenship is indicative in any way of someone’s suitability to be a police officer,” said Police Chief Tom Manger in Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. He co-chairs a national task force of policing executives, which includes members who are lobbying legislatures to change the law in Maryland and elsewhere.
The movement is part of a broader recognition that the difficulty in recruiting police is not just a result of low pay and battered morale—the so-called Ferguson Effect—but of numerous obstacles thrown up by politicians or police themselves.
Jurisdiction by jurisdiction, those barriers are being challenged, often successfully.
A growing number of law enforcement agencies will now accept applicants who admit past drug use or have arrest records for low-level offenses, who lack college degrees and who sport tattoos or facial hair.
But frustrated cops say they are still being handcuffed by arcane state laws and slow-to-respond state oversight commissions.
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