Bill would allow military service to fulfill police job requirement

Bill would allow military service to fulfill police job requirement

SPRINGFIELD -- Military service could be used as an alternative to a college degree by applicants for local police department positions under a bill approved last week by the Illinois House.

The legislation (SB 1908) now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, was approved last Friday, 112-1. It is the second piece of legislation sponsored by the freshman lawmaker to clear the House.

As approved by the House, the bill says that a requirement that a police applicant have an associate's degree may be waived if the applicant has served for 24 months of honorable active duty or if the applicant has served 180 active combat duty days, as recognized by the Defense Department, and has not been dishonorably discharged.

Further, the requirement for a bachelor's degree could be waived if an applicant has served for 36 months of honorable active duty or has compiled 180 active combat duty days.

"The way the law works now," Harms explained, "is that the city can put in a requirement that you have to have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. But you can't use military service. This bill says that if the police department wants to, they may consider military service instead of a degree.

"Here's the example I use: I have a music degree. Would you rather hire me on the police force or hire a Marine? This leaves it up to the city. They can hire who they want. This just gives them more options in hiring."

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rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

That's pretty lame using a music degree when what they want is for people to get a degree in criminal justice, psychology, or something that will help them with their career in law enforcement. Maybe he doesn't know anything about the field.

Joe American wrote on May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Who is the "he" you're referring to?

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

"He" is State Representative (R), Josh Harms, 106th District, Watseka.  Josh is a real Conservative.  He held a recent gun raffle for his campaign,  .

Joe American wrote on May 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Wow, I wish I had known about his fundraiser, but Sid - what on earth does your analysis have to do with the article?  I wanted rsp to answer as I know exactly who she was referring to.

My point to rsp is that it appears as though "he" is the ONLY one who gets it, and he's trying to fix a broken system set in place by arguably the most inept and corrupt state government in the U.S.  Currently, the way the system works is that a music major has priority over a military veteran in local police department hiring and he - that wascally wepubwican - is making military service a suitable substitution for irrelevant and useless degrees.

By the way, you provided a dead link.

rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Like Sid said. Rep. Josh Harms seems to be ignoring the fact that police depts. are wanting to hire people who have an education that will help them in their careers, they aren't hiring music majors. To suggest that they are is disingenuous. If you think the local police are doing that, why don't you go and check. You will find out that there are already many veterans on the local police departments and they also have relevant educational backgrounds. Unfortunately, Rep. Josh Harms seems to be too busy making a name for himself than educating himself. But I guess he's the ONLY one who gets it. Not sure what that is, but he gets it. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Thanks rsp.  I don't think that Josh Harms is the only one who does not get it.  Evidently, he has a following.  Josh has went out of his way to promote himself as a very patriotic conservative.  He knows that law enforcement has, and continues to support hiring veterans.  Josh just wants the votes of the conservative folks in his area who do not know it.  It is a "sound good" bill with the flag wrapped around it.  Raffling off a gun for campaign purposes seems more unsightly than raffling off an AR-15 for community kids sports.  Josh held his raffle party in March during the Atwood Armory controversy.  Where did he get the idea?  Yeah, we have Josh voting on important legislation in Springfield; and we complain about who we the voters elect.  At least, one music major found a job.

Joe American wrote on May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Sid, just answer this question:  Why should a music major have priority over a vet in hiring for police forces?  Don't give us the off-the-cuff answer that rsp does with "they aren't doing that" when, in fact, that's what the law provides for.  A vet with no college degree does not meet the hiring criteria, while a music major does.

I'll ignore your evocative comments which have nothing to do with the story and the fact that legislators are NOT law enforcement.

rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Go to any law enforcement agency, take a tuba with you, and tell them you want to be a cop. See if they take you seriously. OR, if they tell you they would prefer to hire someone with goals more in line with law enforcement. Rep. Harms can "toot his horn" about how someone somewhere might hire a musician over a vet to be a cop but it's not going to happen. 

Alexander wrote on May 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I'm not Sid but I'll butt in anyway -- music majors do not have "priority", they simply have the minimum educational qualifications. If they don't meet the other physical etc qualifications they are no further ahead in line than a veteran who is physically capable but has not demonstrated sufficient education to prove (s)he can interpret laws etc sufficiently in day to day police business.

That's why rsp calls the argument disingenuous -- it confuses satisfying *one* qualification requirement with being further ahead.

To provide an equally absurd argument, why should a super amazingly physically fit, gun sharpshooting veteran who can't read or write, or even drive a car, have "priority" over a music major? 



Joe American wrote on May 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

"To provide an equally absurd argument, why should a super amazingly physically fit, gun sharpshooting veteran who can't read or write, or even drive a car, have "priority" over a music major?"

You're right, but that's clearly the exception, not the rule.  And so is a podunk community in need of an officer who gets one applicant, a music major.

That's not the point.  The point of this piece of legislation that is being overlooked because it's being sponsored by someone outside of rsp's party of choice is that a veteran without a degree is currently NOT QUALIFIED and will not be considered for municipal police forces. That's a problem, needs to be fixed, and I assure you that no matter how insignificant rsp seems to think it is, most would support it regardless of which side of the aisle it was introduced on.

Alexander wrote on May 21, 2013 at 10:05 am

To clarify -- your response seems to change the argument from music major vs degreeless veteran to whether a degreeless veteran should be qualified. If so that's wonderful, since the latter is the *real* question, not the confusing diversion.

I'm not convinced a degreeless veteran should  *automatically* meet the minimum *educational* qualifications. In the same way a Ph.D shouldn't automatically meet the minimum *physical* qualifications. You need to somehow demonstrate mental and physical strengths to be an officer. 

Presumably we're not discussing what "most" would support, but rather what is best for the community.


Alexander wrote on May 21, 2013 at 10:05 am


rsp wrote on May 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

What exactly is my "party of choice"? Because I disagreed with you I belong to the "wrong" party? Do you really think a small town, what you referred to as a "podunk" community, would hire someone who wasn't qualified just because the first time they ran the ad only one person applied? You need to get out more, read more, broaden your horizons.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Joe, the point is that Harms bill is absurd.  Law enforcement has been requiring degrees for sometime now.  EIU offers a General Degree which has no major as a way for people to enter, or remain in law enforcement.  That is just as deceptive as a Music major being hired.  Law enforcement should be looking for a graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice, and a military background.  Hiring Music majors, and ex-infantry personnel without any educational background in law enforcement is not recommended.  Harms is just flag-waving in his proposed bill.  If he was really concerned about both the college degree requirement, and veterans; he would be pushing for educational support (tutoring, vocational counseling, and internships) for veterans earning a degree in Criminal Justice leading to law enforcement jobs.

No, a Music major should not have priority over veterans. Both should have a degree in Criminal Justice before they become law enforcement officers.

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 21, 2013 at 3:05 pm


Joe American wrote on May 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm

"Like Sid said...."

Where did Sid say that?

And it has nothing to do with what the police departments want to do - if a vet doesn't have a degree, they aren't candidates.  So don't go throwing around descriptors like "disingenous" when it's clear you don't even understand the basis of the story.  

rsp wrote on May 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

You're right, I'm stupid. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Seems like a music major found a job without being a law enforcement officer.  He (Josh Harms) has a job legislating on financial, legal, and social service matters with his music major.

Bulldogmojo wrote on May 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

Sid... Joe American refers to "irrelevant and useless degrees". Which tells us everything we need to know about Joe American and his guns over education mentality that is the theme of his postings. His understanding of higher education is that a major such as music would indicate that the person only took music classes to earn that degree.

They walk among us...

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Bulldogmojo;  Yes, they do walk among us; and they vote for those who steal from us.  Josh Harms is just another Joe Walsh, ex-Congressman.  A politician who wraps themself in the flag, spouts nonsense that appeals to the guillible, and lives off of campaign donations.  Illinois is the birthplace of corrupt, pandering politicians. The guillible still believe that the Reds, and Blues conflict is the battle while the corrupt in both parties take advantage of them.


asparagus wrote on May 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Well said.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm
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Music degrees are absolutely irrelevant and useless for the most part.  As are an increasing number of degrees.  College has little to do with "education"...just fleecing your money for the next few decades of your life.

Bulldogmojo wrote on May 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

"I'm very concerned about the cutback in the arts. I think that's a serious flaw, and we'll pay for it eventually. I think that the abandoning of prerequisites in college education—that students who are going to major in the humanities or liberal arts don't have to take any history, for example—is inexcusable. In some places students don't have to take a foreign language. How flagrantly unrealistic that is. How naïve to think that we're going to hold our place in the world with no concern about other people's languages and understanding other people. I think that's a very great failing in education today." ~

Historian, author, two time Pulitzer prize winner, National book award winner, scholar and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, David McCullough on what is changing in education these days and the importance of a Liberal Arts education.

or we could go with Alabaster Jones' and Joe American's view on educaton.



alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 28, 2013 at 9:05 am
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I would agree that a broad education, including liberal arts, is essential.   However, the time for that is not in college...not when most students are paying an exorbitant amount of money for tuition.

That is how they do it in many countries in which the population is both more educated and more employed than Americans are.  A broad education is implemented in the earlier levels, with foreign languages being taught as early as grade school (not starting in high school, which is typical here).  College is more career-specific, and that helps to keep tuition costs down.

The "naïve" and "flagrantly unrealistic" perspective to take is that going to college is a great investment for today's high school graduate (at least today's graduate who doesn't have rich parents), at a time when tuition keeps skyrocketing while the middle class continues its evaporation.

outoftownie wrote on May 24, 2013 at 12:05 am

I'm entering this conversation late, but frankly, given the choice between a music degree and a Marine, I would choose neither.

Neither individual would be prepared to handle the unique challeneges that our police officers must handle. A Marine is not trained to be a police officer. Nor is a holder of a B.A. in Music: performance, education, or otherwise.

And I am certain that the Associate's degree that police stations are looking for would be something in the criminal justice genre. I have no problem with a Marine using their college money to go to school and earn that degree, (and having the military service would most certainly make them a more desireable candidate,) but I do not think that military service alone should trump a specilized degree and training.


rsp wrote on May 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Many police officers get their degrees in criminal justice by joining the National Guard. It pays for college while you serve. And we have had several of them locally who have been called up and served in the Middle East.  Police forces like the disipline that comes with having served in the military but the downside is the militarization of the police force. If an applicant comes along without a degree but has served his or her country honorably they may help them get the required degree.