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Thread: Policing/Functional illiteracy

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    Policing/Functional illiteracy

    "London’s Metropolitan Police recruited officers who are “functionally illiterate” in English in order to increase diversity, according a member of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary."
    ‘Functionally Illiterate’ Officers Recruited by London Police to Up Diversity


    I wondered where to put this post and decided on "rants" because I want to address two issues. First, a background. Forty years ago I was put in charge of a police department's patrol division. One problem I wanted to deal with promptly were written reports. They were often embarrassing. I remember when I was a detective reading a report and I asked my partner, "What is a 'sedaline' torch?" Of course, when I said it, I realized it was an acetylene torch. For many officers, their reports were embarrassing. Not just spelling but handwriting, sentence structure, everything.


    That problem was fairly easy to deal with. I checked on our department and others and found that officers averaged 25%-30% of their on-duty time writing reports. This was true for departments as small as ours and as large as Denver and San Diego, California. I didn't have any trouble getting funding for recorders and clerk typists to transcribe the dictated reports.


    Then I wondered. If a significant number of officers can't write, can they read? All officers in the patrol division were tested. Twenty-five percent were what the specialist said were "functionally illiterate." I asked what "functionally illiterate" actually meant and he laughed and explained. It was a fairly new term. For centuries, people could either read and write or they couldn't. But, as we developed it became more complicated and there were people who could read and write but not well enough to deal with some jobs or, as the specialist described it, follow written instructions.


    All of the officers had finished high school and still 25% were functionally illiterate. Some had college credits and a few had college degrees and some of them were functionally illiterate. As I recall, all of our Hispanic officers were functionally illiterate.


    And very few of these men, it was all men at the time, were dumb. In fact, most were smarter than average and some were very smart. Unfortunately, instead of being taught to read well they were taught that they weren't any good at reading. They could "read" but they were taught they could not "read well".


    I talked with some of the officers who couldn't read well. One, who was in college, explained that he just couldn't read well. It was a flaw he'd been born with. I asked how he got through his classes and he said, "We don't really have to read much and what we have to do my wife reads to me. I listen in class. When my wife reads to me she highlights some sentences and I read and memorize those." This man was obviously bright and he couldn't read.


    We set up a class for reading improvement. I got some respected "readers" to take the class so it wouldn't be seen as a "dummy class". It was a great success. Every student ended the class as functionally literate and some even learned to enjoy reading.


    Now, two final points. Mark Twain said, "“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” I agree with that.


    Lastly, when people call the police, how often is it so the police officer can read them a story? How about, never. Reading is a critical skill for life but it's not a critical skill for police officers. A lot of other skills and characteristics are far more important than reading.


    Note: Sadly, the article I cited uses the term "functionally illiterate" but never defines it for the reading. In my opinion, more than a few "journalists" are not sufficiently literate.
    Last edited by patrickt; 01-28-2023 at 08:58 AM.

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    I encountered a female engineer who couldn't read.... or couldn't comprehend what she read. I'm not talking about engineering material. I'm talking about instructions as to where to put certain required paragraphs on the cover page of reports.

    As quotas and equity and whatever nonsense they call it increases, there will be more if these cases. And plenty in the government bureaucracy.
    Last edited by Call_me_Ishmael; 01-28-2023 at 09:03 AM.
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    I was a commander <capt> of patrol, I had over a thousand reporting to me.

    I can guarantee that back then if you couldnt read and write english you did not get sworn in as Police Officer.
    Fast forward to now, large depts struggle to get up to snuff with personnel and to balance equality are now hiring cops that cant read and write well enough to graduate highschool and the depts keep floundering and having problems...how can you properly train someone who cant read and write well enough
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    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Ishmael View Post
    I encountered a female engineer who couldn't read.... or couldn't comprehend what she read. I'm not talking about engineering material. I'm talking about instructions as to where to put certain required paragraphs on the cover page of reports.

    As quotas and equity and whatever nonsense they call it increases, there will be more if these cases. And plenty in the government bureaucracy.
    It has more to do with the educational system than it does the students and their race or ethnic origin. I had Hispanic officers who were very bright but the system, and the teachers, taught them.


    Reading and writing English is not the standard for literacy. Functional illiteracy deals with how well you read and write English. Everyone we hired could read and write English but not well enough. I'd be fascinated to know how you measured that. I learned before I retired that in college they no longer have essay questions on tests to be completed in class. Too many students can't write.


    I dealt with college students who could not write a confession. I gave an officer who'd been promoted a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. He was very offended. "I have a masters degree." "And if all I knew about you were the proposals you write I'd assume you were retarded. What's a sentence, Mike?"


    "A bunch of words with a period at the end."
    "And, if it has a question mark?"
    "Oh, that's a different kind of sentence."


    When I see a video such as the one from Memphis with five cops, I suspect they can all read. That's not what they're lacking.
    Last edited by patrickt; 01-28-2023 at 09:49 AM.

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    This is in chapter one of "How to destroy a civilization", and it will surely be the cause of ours, among other things.

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    Functionally illiterate? I can't wait to see those reports in court. Lawyers laugh. Perps walk.
    Last edited by dinosaur; 01-28-2023 at 10:26 AM.

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    It is beyond comprehension (no pun intended) to employ officers who can not read. That said, there is a very serious problem, noticeable from 6 to 10 years ago, of officers who are immoral, bully's, unhinged, irrational, bereft of respectable engagement with the public.

    Members ill know that I repeatedly state how extreme arrogance ends in downfall.. we are now seeing the collapse of the Met Police (London) as far as trust goes. There are thousands of videos on the internet showing pathetic, bully boy, stupid, police officers.
    Its time to clear the swamp.

    “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” – Aristotle


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    Quote Originally Posted by dinosaur View Post
    Functionally illiterate? I can't wait to see those reports in court. Lawyers laugh. Perps walk.

    Do you think people expect police officers to be writers? How about journalists? Our expectations for writing skills has always been embarrassingly low.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dubler9 View Post
    It is beyond comprehension (no pun intended) to employ officers who can not read. That said, there is a very serious problem, noticeable from 6 to 10 years ago, of officers who are immoral, bully's, unhinged, irrational, bereft of respectable engagement with the public.

    Members ill know that I repeatedly state how extreme arrogance ends in downfall.. we are now seeing the collapse of the Met Police (London) as far as trust goes. There are thousands of videos on the internet showing pathetic, bully boy, stupid, police officers.
    Its time to clear the swamp.
    And what do you do when you hire good, decent, intelligent, well-intentioned people and put them into a system that destroys all of that? Do you think the FBI hires James Comeys or Peter Strzoks or Andrew McCabes or Christopher Wrays? I don't. They take decent, intelligent, well-intentioned people and turn them into:

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    Last edited by patrickt; 01-28-2023 at 12:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Ishmael View Post
    I encountered a female engineer who couldn't read.... or couldn't comprehend what she read. I'm not talking about engineering material. I'm talking about instructions as to where to put certain required paragraphs on the cover page of reports.

    As quotas and equity and whatever nonsense they call it increases, there will be more if these cases. And plenty in the government bureaucracy.
    I have come across good technical engineers that had some ESL issues. Since I was checking their work, nothing questionable was sent out.
    They eventually got over their ESL issues but would still ask me to verify.

    Having dealt with ESL with my wife and her family, I knew how to discern when they didn't really get what I said and were just agreeing to keep the conversation moving. I would still back up and clarify.
    Last edited by Conservative Libertarian; 01-28-2023 at 01:41 PM.
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