Senior police officials in Kansas City discuss law enforcement hiring policies and diversity among the police. Get the details here!
Kansas City Police Chiefs Talk About Hiring Policies
Police work is undoubtedly a crucial part of the justice system, but one that can be quite controversial at times; especially when it comes to public perception. For that reason, any opinions from senior members of the police force can be extremely influential. With that in mind, four Kansas City police chiefs had a Q&A with journalists at a local restaurant. Among other things, the officers discussed the police hiring process as well as diversity within their respective departments.
Jan Zimmerman, currently the Raymore Police Chief, pointed out that the current political climate does not make the job of a police officer easy — or popular, for that matter. In a post-Ferguson America, it isn’t hard to discern why the police force is in constant need of new officers.
Calvin Hayden, the Sheriff of Johnson County, had another point of view. He mentioned that the hiring process was different for police officers than some other professions. For starters, all of the required tests were hard and took six months to complete. Considering that, it’s no wonder that most people don’t want to go through such a process just to have a job half a year from now; especially in a job market with low unemployment.
After this, the police chiefs answered questions about diversity in their ranks. They were asked whether the degree of diversity among officers was a good representation of the people they police. Chief Rick Smith answered quite honestly, with a resounding “no.” He stated that his department absolutely tries to include as high of a percentage of minority communities as they can. But with the public opinion within the minority communities quite vocal against law enforcement — that process seems to be a struggle. Smith added that he would need more community support for the diversity in law enforcement to increase.
The Police Chief of Overland Park, Frank Donchez, weighed in with his experiences as well. He agreed that incorporating minorities into the police force can sometimes be difficult, even with attempts from law enforcement officials. He gave the example of his own department, mentioning that the area of Overland Park has an Asian population of around 8 percent. And while he has met the local leaders of the Asian community, things haven’t improved much. He was told that as a culture, that minority is not too keen on their kids growing up to become police officers.
Naturally, racial and cultural pluralism is not the only kind of diversity that law enforcement needs. That’s why insights from Chief Zimmerman, the only woman of the four, were especially valuable.
She mentioned that when she arrived at the Raymore department, there were no women serving and no minorities either. That was seven years ago, and she was happy that things have improved since.
Lastly, Chief Smith argued that an increase in law enforcement diversity also required a change in public image. If a police department emanates an image of an organization that’s welcoming towards all kinds of minorities, those people will naturally be drawn to working there. While he stated that this was a process that doesn’t happen overnight — he concluded that all police leaders needed to step up and work on this within their departments.