St. Louis police team up with Missouri universities

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police are partnering with three universities in hopes of attracting better-educated recruits.

The department released an internal study this past week showing that more educated officers are less likely to resign or be fired. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/P3k2D5) reported that the study spurred the Board of Police Commissioners to arrange a partnership with the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University and Harris-Stowe State University.

The department says the goal over the next two years is to do all of its recruiting from those three universities. The department also will begin requiring at least a two-year associate's degree. Since 1995, the department has required that recruits have at least 30 hours of college credit.

Police Lt. Col. Paul Nocchiero said the universities will benefit from the program by getting added job opportunities for students.

"We believe this partnership will improve recruitment, retention, discipline, police services and overall employee satisfaction," Nocchiero said.

Jennifer Giancola, dean of the School for Professional Studies at Saint Louis University, said it's a good situation for both the department and students.

"It's attractive for students to have clear career paths and it's also good to have three diverse institutions to choose from," Giancola said.

St. Louis police also value military experience, but Nocchiero said the department had not decided how to factor that into its recruitment.

The plan also calls for reducing the St. Louis Police Academy to 20 weeks from 28, increasing field training to 36 weeks from 12 weeks and reducing the probationary period to 16 weeks from 40.

The academy's continuing education coordinator, Sean McCarthy, estimates that the department loses about a third of every recruitment class by the seventh year of service.

"That's about $5 million worth of talent we lose," McCarthy said. "If we believe education is the key to success, then we want to make sure everyone has that coming in."

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