A total of 50 participants were selected for the study through simple random sampling. The sampling technique was selected because each member of the subset had an equal chance of being included in the study thereby reducing the risk of bias. The participants were selected from the general public and an online survey sent to each one with questions aimed at establishing how educated police officers should be. The participants selected for the study had to meet the following three primary requirements. Firstly, they had to have access to the internet since the survey was sent online through email. Secondly, the participants had to have an in-depth understanding of some of the minimum requirements for becoming a police officer. Finally, the respondents must be willing to sign a consent agreement form aimed at protecting their privacy. The 50 participants selected for the study fit the criteria within the research method because they provide the information necessary to respond to the primary research question regarding how educated police officers should be? Emanuel, Wendler, Killen, and Grady (2004) note that research ethics provides the necessary guidelines aimed at helping researchers conduct studies in a responsible and accountable manner. Moreover, research ethics educates and monitors researchers conducting research to ensure they maintain high ethical standards. The survey was conducted in an ethical manner by ensuring the data gathered and analyzed followed the best practices in research (Kotrlik & Higgins, 2001). Moreover, the researcher did not include high-risk groups such as minors and inmates.
This section seeks to describe how well the chosen method and research instruments worked during the course of the pilot study and analysis of the results. The researcher leveraged quantitative research in gathering and analyzing the data collected. The approach was selected because it provides a systematic and empirical investigation of the observable phenomena through a statistical approach. Bryman (2006) argues that research that leverages the quantitative methodology has become increasingly common in recent years. Moreover, Quantitative research is better than qualitative research in that the results are more reliable, valid, and generalizable to a larger population. Moreover, quantitative data analysis is advantageous for the study since it focuses on measuring how educated police officers should be. The primary research instrument used was a combination of open-ended and close-ended questionnaires. The formal encourage participants to give full and meaningful answers based on their own knowledge and feelings while the closed-ended questions only required the respondent to answer with a simple one-word answer.
A survey codebook was used for the close-ended questions which helped the researcher assign numerical values to each possible response. The respondents answered the close-ended questions with a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ response and for each response, a code was assigned Ttable 1). Most of the questions were open-ended because the researcher sought answers that helped highlight the respondents’ opinions and attitudes regarding the phenomena under study. Table 2 shows the four open-ended questions and two close-ended questions asked to the respondents.
The responses helped answer the primary research question. The data collected indicates that 94 percent of the respondents (n=50) believe that it is important for police officers to go beyond the bachelor’s degree while 60 percent thought that community policing should be a national priority necessitating a college educated police force. Most of the respondents (70 percent) believe that there is a high demand for law enforcement professionals with leadership skills. The analysis conducted indicates that the majority of the respondents believe that traditional training and criminal justice programs are out dated and incomprehensive. The responses given for the close-ended questions suggests that 71 percent of the respondents do not have faith in a non-educated police force while 56 percent note that educated police officers are more cultured than non-educated ones. Figure 1 shows the quantitative analysis of the results gathered.
Figure 1. The quantitative analysis of the results gathered
The researcher was able to follow the proposed research procedures. However, the quantitative research method was limited by the fact the survey instrument was vulnerable to errors such as those related to measurement. Also, quantitative research involves numbers, but the topic under study was too difficult to quantify.
There are three major findings from the pilot study. Firstly, it is essential for police officers to have more than a bachelor’s degree. At least 94 percent of the respondents (n=50) believe that police officers should have a minimum of a university degree. Most of the respondents (56 percent) argued that police officers with at least one university degree were more likely to be cultured than their non-educated counterparts. Secondly, community policing should be made a national priority. Community-oriented policing focuses on developing ties as well as working closely with community members to reinforce security. Most of the respondents believe that (60 percent) community policing should be a national priority aimed encouraging police officers to be college educated. Finally, the general public is more comfortable when the police force is educated. For example, the responses gathered indicate that over 71 percent of the respondents lacked faith in a non-educated police force.
The researcher had an overall good experience doing the pilot study which involved identifying the study question, gathering primary data, and analyzing it as well as sharing the knowledge gained. The researcher’s ability to conduct research is a critical skill which is he continues to develop with every project he completes. The research helped develop an in-depth understanding of how educated police officers should be. The researcher would use the mixed research method in conducting future studies to collect more comprehensive data. The approach will help mitigate some of the limitations encountered when gathering and analysing data through the quantitative approach. The 50 participants selected for the study fit the criteria within the research method because they provide the information necessary to respond to the primary research question regarding how educated police officers should be? Emanuel, Wendler, Killen, and Grady (2004) note that research ethics provides the necessary guidelines aimed at helping researchers conduct studies in a responsible and accountable manner.
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