Friday, June 12, 2020

Local law enforcement agencies recruit people of color to join their ranks

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2020 at 2:35 PM

  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
When a person of color in El Paso County meets up with a sheriff's deputy or a Colorado Springs Police Officer, they're likely to see a white face rather than a brown or black one, according to data provided to the Indy by the Sheriff's Office and CSPD.

This is important, because as the nation wrestles with allegations of racial bias among the ranks of police officers and deputies, experts say departments that reflect the ethnicity of their communities can serve as a bridge to improve relationships.

Both the Sheriff's Office and the CSPD embrace that concept and say they are focused on trying to transform their largely white officer corps into departments that mirror those they serve.

While the Sheriff's Office employs nearly the same percentage of Black officers as Black representation in the general population, it falls short of Hispanic officers. And CSPD falls short in both of those categories. Both departments' forces, however, adequately reflect the local population with Asian heritage and come close to the mark for Native Americans.

Here's the Sheriff's Office's breakdown:
click to enlarge screen_shot_2020-06-12_at_1.54.03_pm.png

Sheriff's spokesperson Jackie Kirby notes that the county's demographics include children and retired people. Thus, she says, "Based on this, we feel the makeup of our workforce mirrors very closely to the diverse community in which we serve."

The office pays attention to its demographics, she says, and creates recruiting plans to seek out applicants that would help the department achieve greater parity.

To do that, the office recruits locally but also from across the state. Read more about those efforts at the Sheriff's Office's external website:

The next recruitment plan report is due in September.

As for the Colorado Springs Police Department, spokesperson Lt. Jim Sokolik says it's "committed to recruiting applicants to reflect the community of which we serve."

Here are the CSPD's numbers:

Outreach and advertisements are placed in magazines and specific minority websites prior to the hiring process beginning, he says. Last year, the department advertised in these places, some of which cater to people of color:
The Equal Opportunity Employment & Education Journal
Saludos Hispanos (The Cause) and
• Historically Black colleges and universities (African American online magazine)
• El Cinco de Mayo advertisements

In addition, the CSPD recruiter attends job fairs and other events to make connections in efforts to attract people of color. Some of those include El Cinco de Mayo Luncheon, CSCCI Chinese New Year Festival, Hispanic Chamber luncheon, ECOC (Educating Children of Color) Summit, United Methodist Block Party and Roosevelt Charter School Job Fair.

Moreover, the recruiter works with the CSPD Community Relations Unit to develop relationships with multiple diverse groups and attends Fort Carson's transition assistance events where soldiers seek employment upon discharge. Recruitment also takes place in local high schools and colleges.

"The majority of our scheduled events in 2020 were canceled due to COVID," Sokolik says, referring to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. "We will reopen our application process in the fall (pending budget approval)."

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