New Philly cop credo: Street and book smart
Chris Barbadaro expects to graduate from Cabrini College in May with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Despite his academic background, Barbadaro has his sights set on a slightly different line of work: as a Philadelphia police officer.
“Over the summer, I did the internship [at the Fraternal Order of Police] because I was looking at the FBI to be a financial analyst,” said the 21-year-old Northeast resident, who has an aunt and uncle on the police force. “I came here and I loved it and loved the environment.”
The department began accepting applications Monday for a new class of recruits, who will be subject to new requirements implemented by Commissioner Charles Ramsey following the arrest of several officers that cast a pall on the 6,600-person force. Those who pass the exam will be put on a civil service list, from which an unknown number will be selected.
Law enforcement experts say tougher standards generally leads to a better — and smaller — pool of applicants.
“There’s no question in my mind if you look at departments across the country, increasing the minimum age is going to give you more of a track record what this person has done,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent nonprofit think tank.
FOP President John McNesby applauded the changes.
“I think in the long run it’s going to pay dividends,” he said. “I think you’re going to get a solid group of people with street smarts, military experience, and academic knowledge.”
Barbadaro admitted that at age 19 he probably wouldn’t have been ready for the challenge. “No way. Philadelphia is not too nice a place to be a cop on the street these days.”
The new requirements include:
Minimum age is 21, up from 19 years of age
Must have had valid driver’s license for at least three years
Must have 60 college credits at an accredited institution
OR high school diploma/GED certificate and two years full-time, active military experience with honorable discharge
OR high school diploma/GED certificate AND one year of full-time employment as a state certified law enforcement officer within last three years AND state Law Enforcement Officers certification
OR high school diploma/GED certificate AND Philadelphia Police Explorers Cadet Program
Must pass a polygraph exam