Giving Compass' Take:

• There is a current police shortage, making it more difficult to recruit candidates. Some states are hiring individuals that are non-citizens to strengthen police force, but antiquated policies surrounding recruitment might get in the way. 

• Why do regulations on police recruitment take so much time to update? 

• Read about why we missed our chance on police reform in 1968. 

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.

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. Policing experts point out that law enforcement is historically slow to adapt to shifts in cultural norms.

According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Justice Department, more than 40 states have statutes, regulations or administrative rules in place that restrict the ability of law enforcement agencies to employ non-citizens. The report, a survey of diversity in policing, notes that “this requirement may prevent a considerable number of racial and ethnic minorities—many of whom have valuable foreign language skills—from being hired by law enforcement agencies.”

Read the full article about recruiting non-citizens for the police force by Simone Weichselbaum at The Marshall Project