How Cleveland Tries to Recruit Minority Police Officers

The Cleveland Police Department, a foundation, and a community college have started a program aimed at finding more new minority police officers. The city’s population is 53 percent black, but two-thirds of its officers are white.

High school student Rasheeda Ivory, 17, wants Cleveland residents to see police officers the way she sees her father. Ivory hopes one day she’ll show them wearing a uniform and a badge herself, reports Ivory, whose father is a Euclid, Oh., police officer, is one of 59 high school students in the first class of the Law Enforcement Police Pipeline, a program run by Cleveland police, the Cleveland Police Foundation and the Cuyahoga County Community College. At a time when police officers are highly scrutinized and departments across Northeast Ohio struggle to recruit qualified officers, the teens give up weekends, nights and summer days to take part in a program that will help get them to the job quicker.

They face quizzical looks from some peers who don’t understand why they would want to become police officers. “I want to make the world something better,” Ivory said. “There’s so many criminals on the street, [her father is] trying to put them in jail. To me he’s trying to make the world better. Most people think police officers are bad, and I want them to see that not all police officers are bad.” The program’s goal is to have highly qualified minority candidates ready to be hired as Cleveland police officers when they turn 21. The program also aims at making the city’s police department more closely mirror the city’s racial makeup. The city’s population is 53 percent black, but two-thirds of Cleveland police officers are white. The first crop of candidates started out in the first part of the program– through the Boy Scouts of America’s Law Enforcement Explorer’s Program. The teens take field trips, go through real-life training exercises and study the newest tactics used by police officers.