WOODBURY NJ--A two year effort led by the Gloucester County Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative aimed at increasing the diversity of law enforcement agencies that serve the county’s multi-racial population has produced results.
Promoted by efforts such as job fairs and mentoring, the number of minority officers now serving with the county’s 23 police departments and the GCPO itself has increased from 59 in 2014 to 68 at the end of 2016, or an increase of 14 percent. The current total of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian or other minorities represents ten percent of the 654 officers in the GCPO, municipal departments and the Rowan University police department.
The Gloucester County Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative goal is to promote careers in law enforcement, identify individuals interested and mentor them through the process of becoming academically, physically and mentally qualified applicants. Its member organizations include the county Prosecutor’s Office, county NAACP, county Police Chiefs Association, Puerto Rican Action Committee and Dreams of Tomorrow (DOT) Organization.
“Police departments that are representative promote greater understanding among officers and increases trust in the communities they serve,” said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton. “While we have more work to do, I am appreciative of everyone’s efforts.”
“Communicating clearly and effectively is an important part of the job of law enforcement,” said Gloucester County NAACP President Loretta Winters. “I am proud to say that the Gloucester County Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative has provided a vehicle for appropriate and necessary communication between law enforcement and members of the community served by the Gloucester County NAACP.”
Added Wilfredo “Wil” Rojas, county NAACP 1st vice president and chair of its communications and criminal justice committees: “Meetings of the Diversity Initiative have provided the opportunity for organized, strategic planning that have led to significant advancements in the field of law enforcement and protection of public safety. We have focused on addressing long overdue changes in recruitment and hiring, benefiting women and minorities seeking careers in law enforcement.”
Woodbury Police Chief Tom Ryan, president of the Gloucester County Police Chiefs Association, said the association “has worked closely with the Diversity Recruitment Initiative from its inception. We will continue to do so to ensure that all Gloucester County Police Agencies accurately represent the citizens we proudly protect. Through this outreach program, we have already seen diversity growth and representation in the Gloucester County law enforcement community. The continued efforts of the initiative will allow us to grow and evolve with our ever-changing communities.”
The Diversity Initiative has developed a mentoring program in which those considering a law enforcement career meet with current and retired law enforcement officers and with community partners in the recruitment initiative. This five-week program meets two hours each week and is open to New Jersey residents at least 18 years old who are in good health and have no criminal convictions. Anyone interested in participating in the next session, to begin meeting in May, should e-mail GCPO Community Relations Specialist Shannon Eden at [email protected].
Over the past two years, the effort to recruit new police officers has also been promoted by career fairs held at Rowan University in which recruiters from area police departments as well as representatives from the New Jersey State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Philadelphia and New York City interviewed prospective candidates and collected resumes.
Sponsors of the career fairs, the first of which drew some 250 young men and women, included the GCPO; the Gloucester County Chapter of the NAACP; the D.O.T. (Dreams of Tomorrow) Organization; Rowan University; NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; PRAC (Puerto Rican Action Committee) of Southern New Jersey and the Gloucester County Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative.
More information about the Gloucester County Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative can be found on its’ Website: http://gloucesterpolicerecruitment.org. The site also provides information about each law enforcement agency in the county and basic requirements for job applicants.