Police and community relations have been a hot topic lately, with a big part of the conversation, focusing on officer training.
So News 5 did some digging and found in most states we looked into, it actually takes more training to become a barber than it does an officer.
There is more than a thousand hour difference in every state we researched. Ohio, having the largest gap of them all. So we spent some time with a few new recruits from both the police academy and barber school to see what their experience is really like and we were surprised at what we found out.
We met Orlondo Thorn and Thomas Vidal-Engaurran, who are both halfway through their training.
“It's difficult some days,” said Thorn.
Vidal-Engaurran agreed, when he spoke of his training, “no, it's not easy, but that's the point. I mean, being a police officer is probably one of the hardest jobs."
The difference between the two though, is Vidal-Engaurran will be done months before Thorn.
“It's just more work than it seems. When I was a kid I always thought it was just cut hair, get the money, keep it moving, but you know you got to put the work in," said Thorm.
He is required to have 1800 hours before being licensed to pick up his clippers, one of the steepest stipulations in the country.
“Oh, wow, the curriculum is very vast. It's a whole lot of decision-making, a whole lot of multitasking," said Lamonta Betts, Thorn’s head instructor at Flawless Barber School in Shaker Heights.
But for Vidal-Engaurran, he's only required to have 681 hours before he can pick up his gun, and patrol.
“My job is simple, is to work as hard as I can for as long as I can to get on a police department and be the best that I can be," he expressed right before getting ready for his class at Polaris Learning Center in Middleburg Heights.
We found in states like North Carolina. Officers only need 620 hours, but Barbers need more than 1500. That holds true for other states like California, New York and New Mexico.
“There's no way to see who you are to see who I am in a short period of time, it takes time for you to get to that point to learn how to talk to people," said Betts.
But Lieutenant David J. Dillon with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said it's less about quantity and more about quality.
“If you were to add up all the hours in those days they are here for approximately five months, it definitely exceeds those numbers of hours," he said.
While we were visiting the Columbus training facility where the next generation of Cleveland police officers are studying right now, we experienced the rigor in just one day of training.
“It’s got to be intense, very demanding, everything they learned in class has a Nexis to being a law-enforcement officer," Lt. Dillon said.
But back at the barbershop, it was more about relationships, stressing the focus on handling things like race, religion, and ethnicity of their future potential customers.
“You know it's about sociology, psychology all of that it's a lot of human interaction, because we have so many numbers of people so the more people you deal with the better app you are to deal with the public when you get out," Betts said.
Admittedly, Lieutenant Dillon said that was an aspect he knows could improve in their training.
“You can always make improvements, that of course is an emphasis here," he said.
And yet, it's not absent, especially in recent years.
“Diversity training last a long time, all the instructors have found a way to incorporate that in almost everything that we're doing so I mean it is so relevant right now," said Vidal-Engaurran.
Keeping up with the current events when it comes to community policing, he told me for him, becoming an officer is all about being flexible, and willing to change, even when it comes to having difficult conversations.
“I think if you can't strap in for the ride and change with the times, you're not going to make it...with police, the training never stops no matter where you go and I believe in that, I think that's the way it should be," he said.
The Ohio Police Officer Training commission reviews the hours required quarterly. I'm told there is talk of increasing the 681 hours required sometime soon, but an exact date of when that will happen has yet to be announced.