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Proposed bill would streamline college credit process for police and firefighter certification in Utah

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-21 18:49:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill proposed at Wednesday’s interim session of the Utah Legislature aims to make it easier to attract and keep those interested in a career in public safety.

Senator Karen Mayne, D-District 5, said her legislation would be a common sense way for police officers and firefighters to attain and transfer college credits, ensuring the best and brightest candidates fill those ranks.

Mayne said she's spoken with leaders in public safety, in particular those in law enforcement, and there's one thing almost all can agree on.

"The pool of people coming in is getting smaller and smaller,” she said.

And, while no one seems to have a firm handle on why that's the case, Mayne believes a bill she's proposing would help stem the tide by attracting new recruits while keeping veteran officers.

"When you take POST you get 18 credit hours that you can use anywhere in the state of Utah for those universities that have the law enforcement degree,” she said, referring to Utah Police Officers Standards and Training.

And, for a variety of reasons, Senator Mayne says different colleges currently have different ways of accepting and crediting POST certification.

Mayne wants those credits standardized and portable, arguing that we owe it to those who make public safety their career.

“We don't pay them enough, it's very difficult, it's hard on families, the hours are difficult, at best, so we need to give a helping hand and say: 'We appreciate what you do, we're going to make your higher education easier and more transferable to all those universities you want to go to,’” Mayne said.

If this bill passes, Senator Mayne believes it will also help smaller, rural communities that don't have a large population base attract qualified officers from their own areas and from other parts of the state.

She also said it will send a strong message.

"We need you, we need that pool to be bigger,” Mayne said. “So we need to make sure we have all the educational opportunities to keep our seasoned officers and firefighters. We want them to stay with us their whole career."