Arkansas Cops: Completely Untrained, but Licensed to Kill

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To become a licensed practicing cosmetologist in the State of Arkansas, an applicant must pass a state board examination and complete 2,000 hours of specialized training. For an investment of 600 hours an applicant can qualify to work as a manicurist or instructor.

While Arkansas strictly regulates those who cut hair or paint nails in private, voluntary transactions, it imposes no training or licensing standards whatsoever on armed people clothed in government-issued costumes and the supposed authority to inflict lethal violence on others.

“The second night I ever put on a badge and gun I was riding in my own car,” recalls Crittenden County Chief Deputy Tommy Martin. At the time, Martin was 21 years old and hadn’t spent so much as a minute inside a police academy classroom, notes Jill Monier of Mephis’s Fox News affiliate.

“According to Arkansas state law, officers do not have to be certified for up to a year after they’re hired,” observes Monier. “The Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training says they can get an 8 month extension on top of that. So for almost 2 years, an officer can patrol the streets, by his or herself, and enforce the law without having any kind of training.”

Furthermore, the system is a boon to  “gypsy” cops — those who move from one city police department to the next following brief terms of employment that usually end badly. Each time a “gypsy” cop begins a new gig in Arkansas, his 12- to 20-month grace period begins anew; in this way, officers can be enforcing the “law” for years without receiving certification of any kind.

An unlicensed but competent Arkansas resident who receives money for the service of cutting hair could be arrested — with the accompanying threat or exercise of violence — by an incompetent but licensed police officer.

(Thanks to Travis Holte.)

11:25 am on February 18, 2010