HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Friday, July 1, 2022

Developing Police

Madalyn Wasilczuk (University of South Carolina), Developing Police, 70 Buffalo L. Rev. 271 (2022):

Emerging adulthood, defined as the period from 18-25 years old, is a distinct psychological and neurobiological developmental stage. Scientific studies indicate that emerging adults are reckless and impulsive in ways similar to adolescents, and their worldviews and moral reasoning are underdeveloped as well. Consensus on their development has led advocates and legislatures to adopt new approaches to emerging adults’ prosecution, yet this scientific consensus has had little effect on system actors’ understanding of emerging adult police officers. This paper argues that given the characteristics associated with emerging adulthood, police departments should reconsider their minimum hiring ages, typically set between 18-21, and adopt procedures that safeguard the community against the unreasonable risks posed by officers hired during emerging adulthood—both while they remain in that developmental stage and beyond.

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