- The move comes as the state faces high resignation and retirement rates
- The bill will remove the citizenship requirement for aspiring officers if they are authorized to work in the U.S.
- Strict requirements will remain
Nevada is proposing a bill that will allow non-U.S. citizens who live and work in the state to join the police force as the state faces high resignation and retirement rates as well as low recruits among law enforcement officers.
If passed and signed by Nevada’s Gov. Joe Lombardo, the proposed Assembly Bill 30 will remove the citizenship requirement for aspiring officers as long as they are legally authorized to work in the U.S.
The bill sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs will be considered during the state’s next legislative session.
The move would allow approximately 140,000 green card holders and up to 15,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in the state to attend police academy and join police forces in the state.
“That’s a major pool of potentially qualified candidates that want to serve in the community, where they live and who want a better community,” Jared Luke, North Las Vegas’ director of government affairs and economic development, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “But they’re prohibited to do so even though legally they have the authority to work in the United States, so, that’s really the genesis of AB 30.”
The official noted that lifting the citizenship requirement would not remove the other strict requirements to becoming a police officer, such as background checks and physical qualifications.
“All we’re doing is saying that we would like for the state to recognize that this is an additional pool from which to draw,” he was quoted as saying by the Review-Journal.
In 2015, Nevada lawmakers did the same thing to address the shortage of public school teachers, according to Luke. Police departments in North Las Vegas and Las Vegas also allowed non-citizens to enroll in their “explorer” programs for teenagers interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Police departments across the country have raised concerns about staffing shortage, citing the effects of the pandemic, the great resignation, the climate for law enforcement and local reform efforts that are making recruitment and retention difficult, according to a CNN report.
“You’ve got a workforce that’s being compressed on the front end, you’ve got a drop in people who want to be cops,” Police Executive Research Forum president Chuck Wexler told CNN in February last year. “And on the other end, you have a significant increase in people who are resigning and retiring.”
A survey found a 44% increase in retirements and an 18% increase in resignations across police departments in the nation, Wexler noted.
“It’s a trying time to be a police officer in this country,” Wexler was quoted as saying by CNN. “So, police chiefs are wondering who are going to be the cops of the future.”