State police interest surges in PA after college credit requirement axed amid 'dire' shortage

Pennsylvania state police applications spiked over the last month after Governor Shapiro axed the agency’s college credit requirement.

Published: October 1, 2023 11:01pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) — Pennsylvania state police applications spiked over the last month after the governor axed the agency’s college credit requirement.

Nearly half of the 1,200 candidates were not eligible before the Aug. 28 announcement. Overall, interest has surged – in the previous half-year hiring period, the agency had received 1,745 applications.

"We're pleased to see this jump in applications," PSP Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris said. "It's my hope that even more of the brightest and most hard-working women and men from Pennsylvania and the surrounding area will see themselves in a rewarding career with the PSP."

Would-be troopers take a written exam, a polygraph exam, a background investigation, a physical test, and medical and psychological screening before a 28-week cadet training program.

Shapiro was glad to see the application boost.

"We're empowering Pennsylvanians who want to serve their community, and I'm proud of the individuals who have applied to become troopers following our announcement dropping the college credit requirement," he said.

Waiving the requirement was spurred by municipal police shortages. As small departments disband, state police must pick up the slack. That can spread troopers thin, as fewer are around to cover larger areas.

Police chiefs across the commonwealth have warned legislators of the issues for years. Hiring new officers has been difficult, as has keeping current ones — and rules and regulations that slow down the hiring process means many applicants drop out.

Large cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, too, have hundreds of vacancies in their police departments.

Hiring for police departments and the PSP has been called “dire,” a situation where they have “lost at both ends of the candle,” according to Harrisburg Bureau of Police Captain Atah Akakpo-Martin.

Not requiring a college education to be a state trooper may make Pennsylvania more competitive with its neighbors. West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio only require a high school diploma or G.E.D. to qualify. New York requires 60 college credit hours – Pennsylvania’s previous standard – that can be reduced to 30 if an applicant has two years of military service. Likewise, New Jersey and Delaware have similar requirements.

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