To the Editor:
Davarian Baldwin and Joshua Clover’s recent piece on why Atlanta’s “Cop City” development should concern academics wasn’t able to fully describe the extent police academies — like the one planned for the Cop City development — are already associated with higher education (“Police Academies Are Part of Higher Ed,” The Chronicle Review, August 2).
To illustrate, the most recent Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies (CLETA) conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2018 revealed that among the 615 academies included in the census, 39 percent (n = 230) of them were affiliated with a postsecondary institution and constituted the single largest category of academy affiliation. Specifically, 6.8 percent (n = 42) of the academies were associated with four-year colleges and universities, while 32.2 percent (n = 198) were associated with two-year colleges. CLETA survey results also revealed that among academies associated with two- and four-year colleges and universities, 62.9 percent (n = 151) of them automatically awarded college credits for academy training, while 32.5 percent (n = 78) awarded college credits “under certain circumstances.” Finally, 50 percent (n = 120) indicated an associate degree was offered through the academy and 9.2 percent (n = 22) responded that a bachelor’s degree was offered through the academy.
Why academics should be concerned about this situation not only involves the fact colleges and universities are at least partially funding these academies — whose average operating budget in 2018 was $374,361 and their equipment budget was $101,129 — but also the fact that nearly 50 percent of the basic-training curriculum used by them is devoted to such areas as driving, patrol tactics, lethal and non-lethal weapons, and defensive tactics while just 5 percent is devoted to cultural diversity, problem solving, interpersonal communication, de-escalation, and ethics. Higher education is effectively helping facilitate the crisis surrounding police community relations by housing academies where trainees learn they have what Caitlyn Lynch has called “the right to remain violent.”
J. Frank Barefield Jr. Department of Criminal Justice
Institute for Human Rights
University of Alabama at Birmingham