American law enforcement has developed slowly from our inherited English system. Originally, we had the constable to patrol the small towns and villages and the sheriff to enforce societies' rules in the county. This small beginning was the framework for today's national law enforcement operation which employs over 400,000 people in approximately 40,000 jurisdictions in the federal, state, county, and city-village areas. All of these are separate, distinct jurisdictions whose lack of standards and cohesive actions have meant little or no training and job preparation for their officers. The turbulence of the sixties, and the soaring crime rate throughout the country, caused reaction at the federal level. This reaction took the form of federal legislation that, while not well conceived or thought out, was at least a beginning in overall police training.
Once the Safe Streets Act of 1968 became the law of the land, New Mexico quickly passed enabling legislation to receive the federal funds tendered. These monies and added state funds were invested in a police training program centered at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Originally a short basic course, it has since been extended to afford the New Mexico police officer an opportunity for police training that previously had not been available.
The course offered at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, while improving, still lags behind Arizona and Colorado in length, scope, and content. Instruction at the Academy fails to include the educational, social science, or business expertise available in our state. Even with the myriad of problems facing the people of New Mexico, police training receives almost none of the public interest and community effort that it deserves by its very nature. The exacting requirements for barber licensing and inspection, for instance, are nowhere Evident in the law enforcement area.
Attracting our best young people to careers in law enforcement, equipping them to enter the field properly trained, and establishing salaries high enough to retain them are some of the biggest problems facing New Mexico communities. Until these problems are solved, we will continue to lose our police officers to other out-of-state agencies and to other career fields. Unless corrections are made, based on intelligent and objective planning as opposed to political expediency, the gap between the needs of our society and the capabilities of our law enforcement agencies to serve these public needs will widen even more than at present. No improvement in the society-law enforcement relationship is otherwise possible.
Level of Degree
School of Public Administration
First Committee Member (Chair)
Albert H. Rosenthal
Second Committee Member
Donald Winston Smithburg
Third Committee Member
Gerald Joseph Boyle
Jones, John Paul. "The Organization And Administration Of Basic Law Enforcement Training In New Mexico." (1952). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/padm_etds/71