For the last three decades, what the Department of Justice has done, in the form of consent decrees, to local agencies is disgusting but that pales in comparison to our own leaders agreeing to play along with this scam.

It’s hard to debate the rise in violent crime and budgets in each city that has volunteered for consent decrees and I think most in the profession believe that it won’t effect them. They may be right but you have to understand the overall mission of destroying law and order and the long game that is played.

To say I was suspect when the DOJ released their recommendations on law enforcement recruiting and retention this week is an understatement. After systematically destroying law and order in the cities they claim they are “reforming” through consent decrees, what recommendations does the the DOJ have for the rest of law enforcement?

The publication, Recruitment and Retention for the Modern Law Enforcement Agency, was introduced in by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“The Justice Department has produced this report because we recognize the urgency and significance of the recruitment and retention crisis that agencies are encountering. Policing is a noble profession, and we are committed to doing everything we can to support local police departments as they work to serve their communities, build public trust, and keep people safe.”

I appreciate Mr. Garland’s statement and it’s hard to argue that but in the midst of some sound advice, there should be concerns for any law enforcement leader listening to the DOJ.

Lowering Standards
The idea that lowering entry standards is a way to solve the police recruiting crisis is crazy and anyone with a few brain cells would recognize the persistent problems well into the future with this practice. But the DOJ calls this the modernization of eligibility requirements while incorporating “room for redemption.”

Potential items for review by agencies included relaxing “traditional appearance or “grooming” requirements; considering adjustments around drug use to account for time passed and/or changes in law; assessing the need for spelling tests or other written examinations; considering adjustments to educational requirements; reconsidering flat bars based on minor, isolated criminal offenses, especially where offenses occurred a long time ago; evaluating the importance of financial history and credit scores; and adapting physical fitness standards, such as distance running.

Much of this was spoken in vague terms, such as the suggestion that agencies “evaluate the continued use of polygraph testing,” but it concerns me that these suggestions would give the appearance of permission for law enforcement leaders to lower the high standards that should accompany every police hire.


Hiring standards have always been fluid. There decades ago, a series of traffic tickets may have got you booted from the hiring process and there was typically a zero tolerance on any drug use. That has changed for most agencies but we need to be very careful in using standards to assist with recruiting.

We Need To Recruit
Law enforcement does not find itself in a recruiting and retention crisis because standards are too high. The crisis is here because of leadership. Employees want to know that when they do a job that requires split second decisions with limited information, that they will be supported. When the media or an activist lies about them, they want to know that their leaders will stand up and defend them. When a politician demands that a cop be fired for a legal, justified shooting, we need leaders that can stand up to that.

Part of leadership is also understanding the ever changing philosophy of what recruiting is. Until recently, we didn’t have to actually recruit. Plenty of candidates came to us but now it’s time to go find the candidates. You can read my suggestions on recruiting here and if you want to do a deep dive, check out the free training I did for SAFEGUARD Recruiting.

There is plenty of common sense advice from the DOJ in their recently released document and it is not my desire to throw it all away but I see absolutely no benefit to the profession with the idea that standards are the reason there is a recruiting issue and lowering those standards is the answer to solving it.

Dr. Travis Yates retired as a commander with a large municipal police department after 30 years of service. He is the author of “The Courageous Police Leader: A Survival Guide for Combating Cowards, Chaos & Lies.” His risk management and leadership seminars have been taught to thousands of professionals across the world. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy with a Doctorate Degree in Strategic Leadership and the CEO of the Courageous Police Leadership Alliance.