Those without American citizenship but who reside in the country legally are able to serve in the military and now police stations are looking at relaxing the rules so that this group can work as police officers, too.
With recruiting numbers dropping, police are looking to remove obstacles that prevent non-citizens from joining the force.
Tom Manger, police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland spoke with USA Today about his thoughts on hiring non-citizens. Manger is part of a task force working across the country to change laws allowing non-citizens to apply for police positions.
“I don’t think someone’s citizenship is indicative in any way of someone’s suitability to be a police officer,” he said.
There are other laws that have frustrated officers and influenced recruiting numbers, some of which seem unusually harsh. For instance, in Massachusetts, a police officer or someone wishing to work in the force, could be denied a position if caught smoking cigarettes, even if they’re doing so off the clock.
But people like Manger are working to change laws like these which discourage many from applying to work as police. In the United States more and more law enforcement agencies are now allowing applicants to apply for positions even if they have committed minor offenses in the past, or have admitted to using drugs.
But will these officers seeking to open the doors to a wider pool of applicants succeed? A report published by the US Justice Department shows that over 40 states have legislation in the books that makes hiring non-citizens difficult, if not impossible.
Regardless, Manger and his colleagues at the Law Enforcement Immigration Task force plan to continue their work to make non-citizens eligible for police positions, starting with legal immigrants who previously served in the US Military.
“If you criticize these individuals, then you are criticizing someone who has military service,” he said.
This story was first reported by Simone Weichselbaum for USA Today.