Reading a story about a young cop that goofed up, Dave thinks that we should have a minimum age for cops.

It’s an interesting idea. My main concern is the negative effect it would have on recruitment because what are they supposed to do in the meantime? The military is the most obvious option. Security work is another obvious fillgap, though it can be hard to get by on the kind of money we pay entry-level security guards. Particularly if there is a family, and one observation I had with the Phillippi Police Department outside of Colosse was that cops had a tendency to marry and reproduce at pretty young ages. It seems that most of the obvious places they could go, except the military or perhaps working as a guard at a prison, is quite a bit to ask of people to do for 5-10 years when they know that it’s not something they plan to advance in. Or maybe they will advance and decide not to become cops.

In the current economy, as Dave points out, this is not likely to be an issue. Police work can pay pretty well, it’s steady, and it comes with a sweet pension. Dave is also right that in departments like the one in the cited article where the danger is minimal this is less of an issue.

In fact, one of the things I noticed about the Oakwood Police Department, which served the townlets of West Oak and East Oak where I was raised, was that there were no young cops. They tended to hire from other departments. You work for a while in the Colosse Police Department or Colosse County Sheriff’s Department and then you get hired on where the chief requirements are diplomacy and a steady hand. I think that the main thing that the OPD and similar departments are considering is experience, but the maturity that comes with age is probably also a consideration.

I know that there are at least a couple ways to become a cop. If you get hired by a large department like the Colosse Police (pop >1mil) Department or even the Phillippi Police Department (pop >100k) run their own academies. With Colosse in particular, below a certain (pretty high) rank, you have to go through the city’s academy. Delosa’s second largest city, Delianapolis, has no such requirement. For a while the DPD would have billboards posted in Colosse trying to pick off CPD officers. There was talk a couple of years ago of the CPD changing their policy, though I don’t know what became of it.

I had a flat tire at Southern Tech University back when I was a student. A University Police Department officer helped me out with it and we talked in the meantime. He had apparently gone to an independent academy and had run up head-first into the CPD policy wherein if he wanted to become a Colosse cop he would have to go through the academy all over again. The UPD had no such requirement, so that’s where he joined. He eventually wanted to relocate to the Colossean suburb where he was raised, but they, like Oakwood, wanted you to cut your teeth somewhere else.

As kind of an aside, one ambitious constable of one of Colosse’s worst sectors, Lucas Horton, assembled a mostly-volunteer department or Reserve Deputies (“Rangers”). Due to the local politics of the area, the Colosse PD kept a sort of hands-off approach unless called. Patrols avoided the area and arrest warrants were going unserved. The area was developing a vigilantism problem. So he let weekend warriors everywhere know that if you wanted to be a cop he would let you do real police work (including felony warrants). The Rangers had to pay for their own training through one of the independent academies (as well as pay for your uniform, equipment, etc.).

If Constable Lucas Horton’s success (albeit controversial success) is any indication, it’s hard to see how an age limit would act as a deterrent. And in the current economy it’s pretty unlikely that any department will have any difficulty recruiting officers. In the longer term it might be more iffy, especially if the economy picks up. I’d be interested in knowing more about what percentage of current officers are former military and/or did something else for a while before going into the academy.

Category: Courthouse

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5 Responses to Minimum Age for Cops

  1. Peter says:

    Cops claim that they have to retire (with big pensions) at ridiculously young ages because the demands of police work are just too great for anyone over 40. That wouldn’t be too compatible with allowing older people to become cops. Hence, don’t expect existing cops to like the idea too much.

  2. Sheila Tone says:

    I don’t get why this incident makes a case for raising the minimum age for cops. The 25-year-old driver wasn’t working, he was off-duty with friends. If anything, the incident makes a case for raising the minimum age to *drive.* I don’t think anyone would seriously entertain raising the minimum driver’s age to 26.

    The story doesn’t say the driver did anything wrong. He might have been swerving to avoid a hazard. And they say it was “unknown” if they were wearing seatbelts, not that they weren’t. It’s common in fatal accident reports to say “unknown” if people are ejected.

  3. Kirk says:

    Back when I drove an armored van, I worked with a retired cop. Some days, after our last stop, we would pick up a six-pack and drink it in the van.

    The other dude was in his sixties. Stupid knows no age.

  4. Kirk says:

    As for the military and cops, my reservist-brother told me that there are a lot of cops in reserve units. They seem to go hand-in-hand.

    (FWIW, my ‘bro mentioned this when relating a story from Iraq. Out in a rural area, his patrol came across an ’09 Hyundai with New Jersey inspection stickers, parked behind a barn. The cops in his unit looked up its VIN, and the vehicle had been legally transferred from NJ to Jordan. So as far as they could tell, it was legal.)

  5. DaveinHackensack says:

    I addressed Trumwill’s points in the comments at the original post, but, suffice it to say, I consider aspiring cops having to find other work first a feature, not a bug.

    Incidentally, we drove back that way Sunday evening. On the westbound side, we saw a huge dent in the steel guard rail where the cop’s pick up truck hit, marked by a bouquet of flowers. On to the rest of your comments.


    I never heard of a cop retiring at 40. Usually, closer to 50. Raising the minimum age to 25 or 30 wouldn’t change that, because they could still work 20 years.


    The cop was probably driving the way he was because he was a cop, and figured that gave him a get-out-of-a-ticket free card. The story mentions nothing about a road hazard. This was Interstate 80. It’s smooth pavement. Given that two individuals (one in the front seat and one in the back) were ejected, and two weren’t, the most plausible differentiating factor would seem to be that two were wearing seat belts and two weren’t.


    Yes, there are plenty of cops in the Army Reserve. A majority of the guys in my reserve unit were cops. Most of them had served an active duty tour first. The Reserve had a benefit back then (probably still does) where after 20 years, you could earn a full time (if modest) pension from your reserve service.

    Plus, some police departments (e.g., the NYPD) would pay the difference between a reservist’s police pay and his reserve pay when the reservist was on active duty. We were supposed to go on active duty for two weeks per year, but some cop/reservists would ask to go on active duty for longer periods, because they liked it, and it was a break from their day jobs. So they’d ask for orders to serve 8 weeks instead. And, when presented with the orders, their police bosses had to let them serve — and pay them the differential.

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