Pubdate: Fri, 22 Feb 2002
Source: Suffolk News-Herald (VA)
Copyright: 2002 Suffolk News-Herald
Author: Andy Prutsok, Suffolk News-Herald


Prospective troopers no longer have to have a spotless record to join the 
Virginia State Police.

The policy change means people who say they have tried heroin and cocaine 
or have a drunken driving conviction are no longer automatically 
disqualified from employment.

Officials insist the change is not a lowering of standards.

While that contention is debatable and unfortunate, it's nonetheless a 
realistic approach to helping police recruiting efforts.

For a long time, the Suffolk Police Department had a couple dozen openings. 
While highly-publicized internal turmoil under the previous police 
administration no doubt contributed to the recruitment challenges, 
stringent qualifications and low pay did nothing to alleviate the situation.

The State Police are realizing you can't have the best of both worlds. If 
society is unwilling or unable to pay its law enforcement officers what 
they deserve and need to live on, then we have to accept the fact that 
every candidate is not going to be an eagle scout.

In today's world, too many people have "experimented" with things they 
shouldn't have when they were young. Most of them developed into 
productive, law-abiding adults and should not be penalized for youthful 
indiscretions. They serve as congressmen, senators and even presidents. 
They should be allowed to serve as police officers.

The policy change does not send the message that drug use is OK, but merely 
reflects the reality of a world that is vastly different from the one in 
which these well-intentioned, but restrictive policies were designed.
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