Chief of Police Bernadette DiPino of Sarasota, Florida is on a mission to recruit more minority officers and she isn’t shy about sharing her strategy. Chief DiPino’s department no longer requires new hires to hold an associate’s degree. From now on, a high school diploma or even a GED will suffice.

Because diversity. That’s why.

Do cops really need a college education? I can entertain for a moment the idea that they might not. Lawmen didn’t always need associate’s degrees, and I’m sure that there were plenty of good cops in the forties and fifties who had only high school diplomas. On the other hand, criminal justice degrees are supposed to teach aspiring cops something about citizens’ constitutional rights, which some cops could use a dose more of, not less. Yet the value of a two year degree was not in question until the department determined that it was a stumbling block to minority applicants who always seem to need some hand-holding to get over the finish line. Don’t blame me for saying it, blame Chief DiPino for implying that minority applicants can’t meet the same standards as everyone else.

Chief DiPino, of course, doesn’t fret over the adverse effects of lower standards. According to Sarasota’s local CBS affiliate, “DiPino says there are other important requirements she looks for such as character, integrity and life experience.”

Like a good charlatan, DiPino deftly constructs a false choice—either Sarasota PD will have cops who embody those universally admired traits or it will have cops with college degrees. As if it can’t have both. But, as she already admitted, the goal is not to increase the police department’s quotient of “character, integrity, and life experience,” but rather to boost its melatonin.

“We’re not lowering our standards,” says Chief DiPino. Apparently ditching a two year degree requirement in favor of a GED does not constitute a lowering of standards. “We’re looking for people with good character, integrity, it doesn’t matter [the] color of skin…”

Except it does matter. If skin color were not an issue, Sarasota would have a colorblind hiring process, which it clearly does not. The chief has decided that there are just too many white guys on the force and she’s determined to remedy the situation. When she says that she just wants to hire the best people, without regard to race, she’s telling a big, fat, honking lie. If the chief wants more integrity on the force she should start by working on her own.

Sarasota’s hiring policy is just the latest in a nationwide pattern involving the lowering of standards in order to increase “diversity,” a commodity so valuable that it apparently supersedes pretty much all other considerations.

In Columbus, Ohio, the police and fire departments have become more lenient in hiring cops and firefighters who have taken prescriptions drugs not actually prescribed to them, who have had their driver’s licenses suspended for reasons such as failure to pay their car insurance, and who have had “minor physical or emotional domestic violence in the past 10 years” that didn’t result in criminal charges. Again, “diversity” is the magic word that makes it all okay. The Columbus police and fire departments are just too white, so now they will accept deadbeats. The implication here is that minorities are disproportionately delinquent in their financial responsibilities, which is actually not that far off the mark, but unmentionable unless you happen to be advocating “diversity.”

Amy DeLong, chief of Columbus’s Civil Service Division, echoed Chief DiPino almost word for word: “We are not lowering standards.” You’re not?

DeLong continued: “This is a tweaking and obviously we don’t want someone who is physically abusive or has a bad driving record, but we don’t want to eliminate people that could be good police officers.” What a relief! I thought standards were being lowered, when in fact they’re just being “tweaked.”

In North Miami, Florida, the police department abandoned its swimming test in 2004 because black applicants couldn’t pass it. Swimming is raaaaacist! Like all standards destined to be abandoned, the swimming test was uncontroversial until a push for diversity made people question its necessity. Suddenly it became a silly requirement with no practical application to police work, something like knowing how to juggle or ride a unicycle. There’s just one problem—a police officer, in the course of his duties, might someday have the swim. He might have to, oh I don’t know, rescue someone from drowning.

Once we’ve accepted that cops don’t really need to know how to swim, it’s only a short mental hop to the idea that lifeguards don’t either. Yes, lifeguards. In 2013, the city of Phoenix decided that it needed more minority lifeguards at its city pools. “The kids in the pool are all either Hispanic or black or whatever, and every lifeguard is white and we don’t like that,” said a Phoenix official. Geez, no racism there. She added that “the kids don’t relate; there’s language issues.”

Hmmm…maybe the kids should learn English? Sorry, asking people to learn English is racist. I take it back.

In any case, the city didn’t decide to hire more lifeguards who speak Spanish, and I can see why they didn’t. Requiring proficiency in Spanish might boost the number of Hispanics, many of whom speak Spanish at home, but probably not the number of blacks. Also, requiring Spanish language proficiency amounts to a raising of standards, and because the point is to hire more minorities—particularly blacks, who seem to have a disproportionate number of non-swimmers—such a policy wouldn’t produce the desired effect.

Instead, Phoenix decided that swimming skills weren’t really that important. “We will work with you in your swimming abilities,” said a city official. Notice he didn’t say that the city would work with qualified applicants to hone their Spanish. Though language barriers were cited as reason for having more diversity, new hires still aren’t required to speak Spanish, and now they aren’t required to know how to swim either.

In our society, diversity is a goal pursued above all others, including competency. In case after case, race-neutral requirements that everyone seemed to agree were appropriate job qualifications have been dropped when guilt-ridden white liberals determined that they impeded minority hiring. Suddenly, someone decided that requiring cops to be able to swim was rather arbitrary. The requirement stood for many years and many applicants were presumably turned away—some of whom were probably white—and we’re supposed to believe that it was all some silly hang-up. Some racist white guy probably came up with that one.

The proper conclusion to draw here is not that America is infested with systemic racism, but rather that the boogeyman of racism is invoked too often to explain racial disparities that are really the result of minorities not meeting basic standards.