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Absurdity is a common trait of bureaucracies. But nothing says "we have no clue about the laws we pass" more than state requirements for law enforcement training. 

Police are given the trust of the municipalities in which they 'serve' to uphold the rule of law. They are given a gun and vehicle and a certain level of autonomy in order to accomplish this task.

They consistently find or place themselves in compromising positions in which they must make life or death decisions; decisions which affect the lives of every person in this country.

The largest authority granted to cops is that they are authorized the use of deadly force against their fellow man when they feel that their life or the life of another is in danger.

With all of these particularly intricate responsibilities, one would naturally come to the conclusion that a police officer should be required to attend a significant amount of training to achieve maximum proficiency.

Some would assume that the required training to become a trustee of public safety and carry the vast responsibility of a police officer would require considerably more time than say, the training that it takes to learn how to cut hair.

However, they would assume incorrectly.

The Free Thought Project has conducted a multi-state comparison of hours of basic training required to become a cop, and the hours required to become a licensed cosmetologist.

The results may shock you.


We chose to compare the basic training requirements for hairstylists and police in 5 States across the US; New York, North Carolina, Illinois, New Mexico, and California.

We will look at New York first as the NYPD has one of the worst track records and is constantly being granted more and more authority in the name of Homeland Security.

According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Basic Course for Police Officers has continually undergone an evolution since it was first established.

When mandated effective July 1, 1960, the Basic Course for Police Officers consisted of a minimum standard of 80 hours of instruction in specified areas. Increases in the number of hours required were as follows: July 1, 1963 - 120 hours; January 1, 1967 - 240 hours; July 1, 1971 - 285 hours; January 1, 1986 - 400 hours; July 9, 1988 - 440 hours; August 5, 1991 - 445 hours; 1997 - 510 hours; September 27, 2006 - 635 hours; and November 5, 2008 - 639 hours.

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New York has one of the lowest requirements in order to become a licensed cosmetologist. However, it is still 36 % more required training than a cop must undergo, coming in at 1000 hours.

Next up is North Carolina whose police must complete the Basic Law enforcement Training (BLET) Curriculum which consists of a mere 620 hours.

The average North Carolina hairstylist is required to complete 2.4 times more training, 1500 hours, and they will never be tasked with serving a no-knock warrant or shaking down potential drug dealers.

In Chicago, Illinois, their boys in blue have one of the highest requirements for hours completed to become a cop and it comes in at 1000 hours. 

Illinois hairdressers are still required to complete 500 more hours than police.

New Mexico, whose track record over the last year has sparked a special investigation by the Justice Department, ironically just lowered their required amount of training to be a police officer.

The state mandate for basic police training was slashed by more than 25 percent, from 22 weeks to 16 weeks last September to total 650 hours.

It is no wonder they just promoted a man to commander who was accused of burning a man's ear off!

To cut hair or be a cosmetologist in New Mexico you have to complete no less than double the training of a police officer. This is probably why we see significantly less hairstylists shooting unarmed people versus cops.

Last up is the State of California whose Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) mandates that police must complete a minimum of 664 hours, with places like Sacramento topping out at 933 hours.

A California cosmetologist must complete significantly more training consisting of 1,600 hours.

Of course comparing cops to barbers is apples and oranges. However, it is the time required by the state to become licensed in these professions that we are pointing out.

What possible criteria have state legislators used to come up with these requirements? The differences in the amount of time required to be certified in each profession seem asinine when looking at the responsibilities that police are tasked with.

If becoming a police officer were at least as lengthy as becoming a hair dresser maybe we'd see less harassment and brutality and more public service.