After long maintaining that deputies should have college experience, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell says applicants will no longer need college classes to get jobs. He says he’s already done that for would-be correctional officers at the county jail. He acknowledges reluctance at dropping the standard that mandated either college degrees or a combination of college and military experience. “I wish we could still leave the requirement in place,” Campbell says. But the sheriff’s office isn’t getting as many applicants as it once did, Campbell says, and so he’s loosening standards to allow applicants who haven’t gone further than high school to become cops. Part of it is a low unemployment rate, but Campbell also says he thinks that cops who’ve gotten lambasted for doing their jobs is part of the reason fewer folks want to be deputies. As an example, Campbell cites Ferguson, a St. Louis-area town where Officer Darren Wilson was forced out of his job in 2014 even though state and federal investigations showed that he’d acted in self defense when he shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager whom Wilson killed after the teen allegedly robbed a store. “If you’re going to be shot at and spit on and then criticized by national leaders, that, certainly, is a turn-off,” Campbell says. Campbell also says cops aren’t perfect. “There are times when law enforcement officers make mistakes, and I certainly recognize that,” he said. “I’m a reasonable person. Everything evolves.” As always, the sheriff will have the final say on who gets hired. “I’m going to want to know: Have you furthered yourself in life?” Campbell says. “It’s on me to find the
best recruits.”

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