DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio may be changing the minimal age of police officers from 21 to 18.
Senate Bill 53 is currently in the Senate committee after being introduced as an amendment during the 135th Assembly.
Some states around the country already allow 18-year-olds to join the force. According to Dayton Police Chief Kamran Afzal, the proposal is a great idea, but it may not be much help.
Before becoming Dayton Police Chief, Afzal spent 24 of years in Arlington County, Virginia, where the legal age to become an officer is 18.
He said younger officers bring energy and enthusiasm but are lacking in some important areas.
“A lot of the issues we see are really maturity issues, and it just takes time for people to get to maturity,” Afzal said.
“I don’t necessarily think that we’re going to solve our issues by expanding the pool…We’ll have a bigger pool, and you never know. There were some 18, 19, 20-year-olds that might be mature enough to be able to do this job.”
Other counties in the area say that if 18-year-olds can enlist in the military, they should be able to serve as an officer. However, Afzal said they want to make sure they are not lowering their standards for the sake of numbers.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is sacrifice our principles as to who should be law enforcement, because a job is very important,” Afzal said. “You know, you need the highest character, moral character, ethical character, because you have a lot of power as a police officer.”
The next step is for the bill to be reported by the senate before it is passed and sent to Governor Mike DeWine for final approval.