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Police force diversity


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"Whereas departments have historical difficulties recruiting women and minority applicants, their inability to grapple with generational differences has shown the profession to be underprepared for the rapidly changing and uncertain economic and social landscape," he said in the paper.

Wayne State's Smith also said departments that want to increase diversity have to take affirmative steps to recruit people, including going to career fairs that extend beyond their state.

"Wayne State has a career fair that is co-sponsored by the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives. They reach out to agencies to show up, so we get agencies as far away as Texas," he said. "If departments are serious about recruiting, they have to seek them out, and that means going far. There is a demand now, and they are fighting for candidates now, which is great for students who want to go into law enforcement."

Part of the challenge for law enforcement agencies, Smith said, is drawing people into the field from underrepresented groups.

"It's not that it isn't respectable, but a lot of young men have had negative encounters with police, so why would they want to be a police officer?" he asked. "Others have high crime in their neighborhoods, so they have a desire to commit to changing that. That's what some of these agencies need to look at, and they need to sell themselves as that."

Novi Police Chief David Molloy said the ultimate goal in recruiting is to have a department be representative of the community. Novi, he said, has a population that is about 72-73 percent white; 8 percent African American; 3 percent Hispanic; and about 16 percent other, which includes many Asian, Japanese, Korean and Indian populations.

Like Troy, Novi has a diverse population with many different languages spoken.

"We would love to have a department that is representative of that population," he said. "We try to be as representative as we can, but it's always a challenge."

Of the 64 officers at the Novi police department, he said seven are female; one is African American; one Hispanic; one Indian; one Albanian; and one of Middle Eastern descent.

"Since becoming chief in 2005, the numbers have gone up," he said. "For a long time, we only had three women. In 2007, we had a lot of good candidates that we were able to attract. I think it's a good thing. They have communication skills and the physical ability to handle any situation they are placed into."

In terms of the hiring process, departments cannot factor race or ethnicity into their decisions, under state law. However, Molloy said the department works to recruit from specific areas when possible.

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