Increasing Racial Diversity
In order for a community to work properly it must be fair to everyone, it must show that everyone in that community is worthy. Maple Heights has a very low percentage of minorities working as policemen and firefighters. Shaila Dewan author of “Mostly White Forces in Mostly Black Towns: Police Struggle for Racial Diversity”, covers the overall problems with Maple Heights and racial diversity. There are no minorities working in the fire departments and only two working in the police departments. The percentage of minorities that are police officers in larger cities such as Cleveland are very high, but in cities such as Maple Heights and Ferguson the percentage is very low. A sociologist at Queens College discovered that in the areas where the population held mostly minorities there was a greater number of white officers, even though there was a lower percentage of white persons in the population (Dewan). The police department, not having many minorities causes the community to not be represented the way it should. Meanwhile other towns near Maple Heights have a higher level of diversity, therefore they represent their community. When departments reflect their community it allows the people to trust them and not jump to conclusions when a crisis occurs. Many residents in the community have different opinions on whether there should be more minorities in the departments, because some people feel that it is the “…attitude, experience and training of the officer, not race, that mattered” (Dewan). Chris Turney believes that it is important for officers to live in the city, and that they do not try to get to know anyone, they just need to get the job done (Dewan). Detective Ericka Payne, who is from Bedford Heights states that there are differences with the way Maple Heights and Bedford Heights departments interact with the community. She said they try to be a “…bit more community oriented. Because we are a little bit more diverse…”(Dewan). Several Maple Heights officials felt that there was never a problem with diversity in their departments. They felt this way because the police force has shrunk from the foreclosure crisis, and it has been hard to find qualified candidates of any race. Chief Popielarczyk said that “The real goal of the department is to provide qualified officers who are competent and can provide quality service regardless of race” (Dewan). In order to get into the police field you have to pass a written, physical agility, psychological test, a polygraph and a background check. (Dewan) In Maple Heights candidates are considered on how high their written exam was; they can earn bonus points for previous training, military experience and city residency. When the department is looking to hire somebody new, they look at the next qualified person by the score they received on the exam. However in Cleveland Heights, when they want to hire a new employee in either department they look at the top ten candidates, which can help create more of a racial diversity. Cleveland Heights also allows more diversity by offering two types of positions. One position requires the candidates to take a Civil Service exam and have a college degree. The other is a lower tier called basic patrol where you do not need a college degree. People who apply for or receive the basic patrol will eventually earn a degree and work their way to the upper tier (Dewan). Recently residents from Maple Heights formed a committee called the Maple Heights Citizens for Change. (Dewan). The purpose of creating this committee was to persuade the city to hire more minorities. One of the committee members, Elaine Stone found a forgotten affirmative action agreement that was signed by the mayor of Maple Heights, who agreed that “…within three years minorities would make up at least 4 percent of its police and fire departments” (Dewan). The mayor stated that in order to stay true to that agreement he would have to know what a minority was considered, because he considered us all minorities. The committee made many calls to the mayor and the Maple Heights director to try to get them to listen to their story, but they never called back. Mr. Ross, one of the black voters, emotionally stated that even in 40 years they still cannot find any African-American policemen (Dewan).
I am here today to talk to the police academy to inform you on what has been going on and what needs to change because it is injustice. In Maple Heights the fire departments have no minorities; they have a 100% white staff and in the police department they have two black officers. There is a large population of minorities that live in Maple Heights but they do not work in the police or fire departments, the departments are mostly made up of a white population (Dewan). Maple Heights in forty years has not changed the hiring process in the fire and police departments. The main problem in Maple Heights is that there is not enough racial diversity among the fire and police departments, causing the community to not be reflected how it should be.
If Maple Heights changed the way that they hired people for police or firefighter positions they would be able to have more of a racial diversity in their departments. Maple Heights rank their candidates by the highest score to the lowest score on their written exam. People can earn bonus points on the exam by having previous training, military experience and city residency (Dewan). I feel this needs to change, because if a new family moved near Maple Heights and wants to have a position in one of the departments, they would not receive the bonus points which would restrict them from maybe getting the job. If Maple Heights developed Cleveland Heights’ way of hiring employees they would be more successful at having more racial diversity in their departments. Cleveland Heights officials consider the top ten candidates on the list, which gives them more of a variety for racial diversity. Another example of how Cleveland Heights helps the community is that they provide two options when applying to become a police officer. One of the options requires the Civil Service exam, and a college degree. The second option is a lower tier and it is called basic patrol. The basic patrol officer is hired and does not require a college diploma. Usually the basic patrol officer will want to work their way up to upper tier by earning their degree. The basic patrol is a great opportunity for people, because if you dropped out of school and want to improve or change your life they could choose the basic patrol officer and work their way up. Maple Heights was asked why they do not look at the top ten of the candidates like other police departments, instead of just selecting the top candidate on the list (Dewan). Chief Popielarczyk stated that they “…always [did] it that way. My understanding is that that’s how we’re supposed to do it” (Dewan). The head Chief not trying to better their departments helped cause the problem of the lack of racial diversity.
I feel that if we develop a new hiring system, it would create more of a racial diversity representing the community that the people live in (Dewan). If there were more minorities in the police and fire departments it would make the community have an “…easier time building trust and defusing, rather than escalating, tense situations” (Dewan). For example in Ferguson the shooting of the young black man, there were fifty three police officers and four of them were black. If there were more of a diversity in the community they would not have been outraged, they would have acted in a calmer manner (Dewan). People want their community to be represented accurately, so having a racial diversity instead of a few minorities in the departments helps balance out the community. We need to respect everyone’s talents and give everyone a fair chance in getting this job. So thank you for listening to me today, we are looked up to when there is danger, we are the people that are called when someone needs help, we can not have people fear us of not treating everyone fairly when we are here to save them from dangers. I hope that everyone takes this into account and if you see any discrimination anywhere that you try to act on this. Our world is precious and we need to treat everyone in this world that way.
Racial diversity in the police and fire departments that have a large population of minorities in large towns is the key to a happy and successful town. People want to be able to trust the police and if there is a racial diversity, most people would feel like there is not racism going on when a tragedy occurs. Racial diversity in the community makes people work together, it offers more opportunities for people to be hired and it will represent the community that they live in.