To attract diverse officers, law enforcement agencies from around the world are turning to recruiting candidates from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Departments try to solve a growing law enforcement problem
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, recruitment was a serious concern for various agencies across the country. In fact, it has been observed that departments are “struggling with the recruitment and hiring of police officers”.
“The IACP Recruitment Survey shows that the difficulties encountered in recruiting law enforcement officers and staff are not due to a single cause. Rather, multiple social, political and economic forces are at play simultaneously to shape the current state of recruitment and retention.”
In response to this “crisis,” programs were established to increase interest in law enforcement careers at HBCUs.
Ohio’s Central State University is one such institution, and Yarnell Rickett — an alumnus who works for the San Antonio Police Department — was flown in to speak before criminal justice majors and “recruit new cops,” according to The Marshall Project.
HBCU’s ‘Gateway’: ‘Minority Officers Are Needed, And Now Is The Time’
Referring to this approach to recruitment, Rickett says, “Minority officers are needed and now is the time.”
“There’s a generation of officers who are leaving because they don’t like the transparency, the accountability … a lot of that ‘old’ thinking in the police force is disappearing.”
Ericke Cage, the president of West Virginia State University, shares a similar stance. He notes that “HBCUs can serve as a gateway” for better relationships between police officers and the black community.
“I believe that HBCUs can serve as a gateway. We can help get to that model of 21st century policing. It’s one that’s inclusive and inspires trust on all sides of the equation.”
Central State’s criminal justice program students have a mission to “be a part of change.”
“People think all cops are bad and I understand some of the reasons for that…but I want to be a part of the change,” shared a student named Connor Saxon-Boclear.
Nya Norvelle, another criminal justice major at Central State, acknowledged similar motivations.
“You can’t do anything better if you’re not willing to be part of the solution. Policing isn’t just about crime prevention – it’s also about building bridges.”
Lincoln University in Missouri established the first HBCU Police Academy
Another example of the growing relationship between HBCUs and law enforcement is Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. The establishment of the first-ever HBCU Police Academy, led by Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill.
“Our academy is different from most academies. We teach the necessary standards and training for peace officers, but we also talk about things we can do to improve our neighborhoods. You can find crime everywhere, but can you solve problems in your neighborhood? To me, that is real police work.”
The FBI became involved through programs such as the Beacon Project
While we’re on the subject, we have to point out that the FBI jumped on the ball too.
Back in September, the FBI’s Columbia field office established a mentoring program with five HBCUs in South Carolina: Benedict College, Allen University, Claflin University, South Carolina State University and Morris College.
FBI Columbia Field Office begins its first mentoring program at Benedict College and other HBCUs in the Midlands. More about the career offer with @abc_columbia at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. pic.twitter.com/7gm4wjYgeN
— Lee Williams (@leewilliams93) September 15, 2022
This South Carolina initiative is linked to the FBI’s Beacon Project, which was launched in 2021 to “advance relationships between the FBI and underrepresented communities.”
As part of the project, the #FBI plans to increase recruitment at HBCUs and enroll more HBCU leaders in Citizens Academies — multi-week programs that give community leaders a behind-the-scenes look at the FBI. pic.twitter.com/jLuCpICjxx
— FBI (@FBI) September 8, 2021
What do you think of law enforcement agencies trying to develop a closer relationship with HBCUs?