FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fort Wayne police commanders say tensions can be reduced at crime scenes and in other contacts with the public when officers look more like the people they are serving.
That's one reason improved diversity is being sought through the next police recruit class for the department, which should be graduating next spring.
No specific number of minorities is being targeted, but leaders of FWPD do want to see a better representation of the city's natural diversity on the force, and they are in hot pursuit of candidates who can make that happen.
Of 350 officers on the city payroll, about 80 percent of them are white males or females, which is higher than the white population in Fort Wayne overall.
Deputy Chief Dottie Davis says to make matters worse, some minority officers are considering retirement.
With the growing Burmese population here, police commanders would love to get some Burmese applicants.
They want to make sure the rigorous screening used doesn't unnecessarily weed out minority candidates.
" We want to see if there's any step of the process that might have an adverse impact on one gender or one group, so that we can, in the future, then repair that, or at least identify what the issue is, and try to address it,” says Davis.
Part of the outreach strategy involves using churches with larger minority congregations to help get the word out about a career in police work.
Getting applicants is one thing, getting them through to graduation is another.
Many different things can disqualify a candidate.
If you've smoked pot in the last five years, for instance, you are ineligible to wear a FWPD badge.
Things like voice stress tests, psychological evaluations, interviews with family or friends, and drug screens are methods that can be used to catch somebody trying to hide a drug history or other secrets from the past.
Applications will be accepted through September 28th.
The size of the class will depend upon how many officers retire or leave for some other reason between now and March of 2013.
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