Professionalism in Policing: Do Increased Education Requirements Improve Police Performance and Procedural Justice?

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


With the increased attention to police brutality against people of color in recent years, the credibility of police departments is being called into question. Prior research suggests that a police force can improve their trustworthiness in the eyes of the public through prioritizing procedural and outcome justice. However, less is known about how to achieve these goals. Can education requirements play a role in increasing levels of procedural and outcome justice in police departments? By using rates of use of force rates as a measure for procedural justice and clearance rates as a measure for outcome justice, I investigate whether increasing the education requirements of police departments is associated with greater procedural and outcome justice. Data for this comparative quantitative analysis of police departments are drawn from the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey (LEMAS), the Uniform Crime Reporting survey (UCR), and the US Census. Through multivariate analyses, I find that raising education requirements increases use of force and decreases clearance rates, and community policing training for police recruits increases clearance rates but also increases use of force. Community training was more likely to exist at departments with increased education requirements. These findings suggest that departments with evidence-based policing methods have higher clearance rates. Careerism from increased education requirements may cause use of force to increase, however, this situation may be improved by switching the department style from legalistic to service policing. I argue that police departments should implement higher education requirements while also altering the organizational goals of police departments to be service-oriented and requiring community policing training for all police recruits.



Police, Education, Use of Force, Community Policing, Police Training