Diversifying Law Enforcement When Negative Perceptions Persist

Apr 23, 2016

Community leaders and law enforcement officials meet for the 2016 Symposium on Race and Policing in Reno.
Credit Rocio Hernandez

One of the big concerns brought up at Thursday's Symposium on Race and Policing, held at UNR, was how to better diversify law enforcement in Northern Nevada. Reporter Rocio Hernandez has more. 

“Can I get a hand out there on how many African American males want to be officers?" 

Patricia Gallimore, President of the Reno-Sparks NAACP posed the question to the audience, getting nothing but crickets at first.

"How many African American females want to be officers? How many Latinos? Okay. Got one.”

Gallimore says often minorities have negative perceptions of law enforcement based on personal experiences. 

"The overall negativism towards law enforcement is pushing away good quality candidates that are and could serve our communities for a long time," says Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen. 

Allen's department, along with Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Reno Police, are moving their recruitment efforts beyond traditional spaces like high schools and colleges. For example, they’ll looking for new officers at a predominantly Hispanic church called Ministerio Palabra de Vida in Reno. 

Gender diversity is being looked at as well. The sheriff’s office brought in 10 new female deputies last year, with goal to bring even more this year.