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Correlates of police academy success

Benjamin Wright (Division of Criminology, University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Mengyan Dai (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA)
Kathryn Greenbeck (Baltimore County Police Department, Towson, Maryland, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




The purpose of the current study is to expand the existing knowledge base that seeks to determine which pre‐employment factors can predict which police candidates will successfully complete the training academy.


The data for this study were collected from application and personnel records of 503 police recruits accepted into the Baltimore County police academy. The dependent variable, success in the academy, was measured as a dichotomous variable (1=graduated; 0=not graduated). The independent variables were routine employment factors.


A key finding was that general work experience was better at predicting successful completion of the training academy than prior police experience and prior military experience.

Research limitations/implications

In this particular study it was determined that police recruits who had a prior arrest record or prior illegal drug use and also had prior work experience could successfully complete the police training academy. However, these results are limited to those police organizations that give individuals who had a negative encounter with law enforcement a second chance.


Few studies have examined the relationship between background characteristics and successful completion of the police training academy. This study broadens the understanding of the need for police applicants to have a solid record of general work experience.



Wright, B., Dai, M. and Greenbeck, K. (2011), "Correlates of police academy success", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 625-637.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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