Columbus is a diverse community, with multiple races and ethnic backgrounds reflecting the residents who live, work and play here.
However, it’s been a bit of a struggle for the Columbus Police Department to align its makeup to that of the city’s population.
Currently, the department’s force is heavily skewed toward white males, with 75 such employees (94 percent of staff compared to 87 percent of the available workforce).
The department also employs four African-Americans (4 percent of the staff compared to 3 percent of the available workforce).
It has two Hispanics (3 percent of the staff compared to 6 percent of the available workforce).
That means only blacks among racial minorities on the force represent a larger percentage than blacks in the city’s available workforce.
The challenge in having a police department that mirrors makeup of the community has largely been that few minorities apply for law enforcement jobs in Columbus. They’re more likely to apply for jobs in larger metropolitan cities that have bigger minority populations.
However, it’s good to see that the Columbus Police Department has been trying to encourage more minorities to apply for jobs as officers here.
It makes sense for the department to reflect the community’s diversity because it helps in building trust and forging relationships with community residents — both important aspects in helping police officers do their jobs.
Columbus Police Department has been trying to attract minority applicants by building relationships with the Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Organization and the local African American Pastors Alliance. The department has advertised its open positions in Indianapolis, college campuses and traditionally black colleges in the Midwest.
The police department also is using its cadet program to interest high school students ages 15 to 18 in police work — another way to build relationships that could result in more minority applicants down the road.
While this effort is challenging and may not bear the fruit desired for some time, we commend the Columbus Police Department for valuing diversity and attempting to be more diverse.