As we hear and see more and more reports of violence by police officers directed at innocent and not-so-innocent citizens, some observers have commented on the "militarization" of our police forces. For what it's worth, here's the experience of one police force that recruits young men (mostly men) who are coming out of the military.
First, recall there are two types of people leaving the military: retirees, and, prior service.
Military retirees are just that -- they have served sufficient time to retire with a military pension and retiree benefits (medical care, exchange and commissary privileges, and the like), usually 20 or more years. I'm a retiree with 28 years of service.
Prior service ex-military are those who join, serve a specific commitment -- usually 3 - 5 years -- then return to civilian life. In some cases, a person may serve his/her initial commitment, stay in longer, then leave before reaching the length of service needed for retirement.
I spent the last week at my jackass son's former home -- at age 43, he finally had one girlfriend too many for my professional, educated daughter-in-law to tolerate, so, she tossed him out and has filed for divorce. Two little boys -- 9 and 6 -- need near-constant attention so Grandma and Grandpa have temporarily moved in until we sort out the future.
They live in a Washington, DC, suburb that, when I left the area in the mid-1990's, was a bucolic rural area but now is covered with housing, strip malls, and pavement. The county police force is respected and competent with no history of police violence.
Daughter-in-law's brother is a captain in the county police force in charge of recruitment, training, and retention. Last week he and I finished mowing the grass on their 5 acres then we popped a few cold ones on the deck. Conversation got around to his job and he dropped a bomb.
Seems as though the county police force historically recruits young men and women leaving military service because they are disciplined, accustomed to teamwork, have worked in stressful situations, and are in good physical condition and good health. Years ago they rejected only a few prior-service applicants.
Today, according to this police captain, 75 percent of the prior-service military personnel who apply are rejected -- because:
-- Tattoos. The force does not want cops who deal with the public every day displaying sleeve tats, lightning bolts and death's heads on every knuckle, and swastikas on their necks.
-- Us against them attitude. Too many prior-service military recruits express an attitude of "us against them" -- "We are the good guys, they are the enemy." This police force still is committed to protect and serve and they don't need cops with an in-your-face attitude.
Makes me wonder what happens in other police forces. Do they reject recruits for the same reasons? Or do they accept any warm body who applies? And, where do the rejects go?