St. Louis Police Have Trouble Recruiting Enough Minorities

Article excerpt

I CERTAINLY wouldn't want the jobs of Lt. Col. Raymond B. Lauer or human resources director Larry L. Brockelsby these days.

Those two work with the St. Louis Police Department. Their job? Recruiting people to become part of the city's finest.

These days they're focusing on recruiting more minorities to the police force.

That effort's a noble one. In a city where the population is approximately 50-50 black-white, minorities make up 31.4 percent of the force. Not bad, compared with some years back, but not really that representative of the city's makeup.

Their job is made harder these days by all sorts of things; much of it has to do with the fighting between City Hall and the Police Department. Many officers are disgruntled because the city maintains a residency requirement that all police officers must live in the city; many more are angry because City Hall types refuse to loosen the purse strings to give the cops a decent raise, even though it's clear that for the first time in years the city has the money.

St. Louis police are paid less than officers on many suburban forces, even though they often face many more dangers.

It's with this as a backdrop that Lauer and Brockelsby are trying to recruit.

It hasn't been all that easy.

While the two have been recruiting locally, they've also found the need to look elsewhere in the Midwest.

"We don't exactly have long waiting lines here," Brockelsby said.

In efforts to especially find minority candidates for the police force, the St. Louis department is recruiting as far away as Chicago, which has a long waiting list. Brockelsby and Lauer are pleased with some of the candidates they've found, such as a black man who was a graduate of Northeast Missouri State University and a captain in the Army.

"He's excited about becoming a police officer and we're excited about him," Brockelsby said.

In fact, Lauer said, men and women who have served in the armed services tend to be good candidates for police work because they usually have the maturity and self-discipline for the job.

Some might suggest that the police department should be looking for officer candidates period, and not minority officers in particular. Lauer and Brockelsby disagree.

"We're trying to become a more and more diverse police department because we've become a more and more diverse city," Brockelsby said. …

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