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Ohio bill may drop minimum LEO hiring age from 21 to 18 to help recruitment

State senate bill tries to deal with the shortage of officers by changing only the minimum age

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By Bill Carey

CINCINNATI — Legislation in Ohio, if passed, could help reduce the shortage of police officers and increase the number of applicants.

Senate Bill 53 would lower the minimum age to become a police officer from 21 to 18, WKRC reported.

“There are billboards for Indianapolis police here in Cincinnati,” Dan Hills, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police, told WKRC. “There are bonuses all over the place. They’re trying to take our people away.”

WKRC reported that data from the Cincinnati Police Department shows that just under 1,000 officers are on the force. Full strength is 1,059. Lowering the minimum age is one of many ways several states are trying to recruit new police officers.

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Hills said that 18 is too young and that 19 would be acceptable if there are conditions attached: “They could have assignments on the desk duty, something of that nature, or be with a senior partner and define that senior partner with legislature,” Moreover, Hill said putting a 19-year-old officer together with a 21-year-old officer would probably not be a good idea.

The bill only changes the minimum age and does not propose any changes to training, physical fitness and licensing.