Earlier this week, I attended the Racial and Cultural Equity call hosted by the Chester County Marching Forward R.A.C.E. group. It included lawmakers from around our region, including Sen. Comitta and Sen. Muth whom I greatly admire, and a couple of police chiefs. It was incredibly enlightening and so I wanted to do a quick write-up to share what I learned.
Last year, a local scholarship for the Police Academy was started by local religious leaders. Also, there is a program where kids from Coatesville come out to engage with West Chester Police. I look forward to speaking with the Chief about these when we meet.
While many shared new laws and policies that are making great strides, everyone acknowledged that there are places where we need to improve our police force. Some of these were also discussed at last month’s Borough Council meeting and so I am officially adding the following police reforms to my platform:
- A common concern from residents is that few of our officers live in town. We should be looking into a home buying credit so we can encourage officers to live in our community.
- I know WCPD is NOT accredited. I have heard that the renovations we performed on Borough Hall a couple of years ago went a long way towards accomplishing this goal, but I will work with the Chief to get whatever we need to get accredited.
- I liked Council President Galey’s idea for a local Police Academy feeder program and I will discuss this with the chief when we meet.
The biggest takeaway for me was at the end of the meeting when one of the chiefs said “It’s great to see these laws, but no agency is doing it right.”
We need to be that model. So I am looking to law enforcement agencies in other states for inspiration. I know we are limited by Civil Service Requirements, but I also know there are folks on the state level like Sen. Comitta and Rep. Herrin working on modifying them to make it easier to hire a more diverse police force.
Mayor Herrin made hiring female officers a priority and achieved that goal. I will make diversification of our police department the highest priority because I refuse to believe that the problem is “lack of applicants”, we need to change how we do things and who we are reaching when trying to recruit.
Finally, I want to be very clear. The lack of diversity is not the fault of the department itself, but rather the civilians who are in charge of hiring the officers, and the hiring processes they create. WCPD works with what we give them, and we are failing both our neighbors and the department by not creating a police force that mirrors our community.
In last month’s discussion about police diversity in hiring, the solicitor said that in the end, getting a diverse pool of candidates comes down to marketing. As someone with over a decade of marketing experience, I think my talents make me uniquely qualified for the task.