MSP looking at solutions to lack of diversity in recruits - WNEM TV 5

MSP looking at solutions to lack of diversity in recruits

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Michigan is a pretty diverse place, the state police department... Is not.

"It’s a national problem, not just [Michigan State Police]," said Lt. David Kaiser.

It's an issue that's been magnified recently around the country.

Law enforcement agencies made up of a majority of officers who don't look like... Or have the same background as the people in the communities they serve.

According to census data, about 14 percent of the population in Michigan is black...

But of the last 430 trooper recruits to graduate from the Michigan State Police academy, only 3 percent were black.

Kaiser said department officials admit there's an issue and now, steps are being taken to fix it.

"Three-quarters of the recruitment efforts we've had recently have been in urban areas to have a more diverse state police," Kaiser said.

Kaiser said the entry level exam for new recruits was once in just three cities in Michigan, now it's offered in twice as many areas, including Flint and Saginaw.

Pastor Larry Camel co-founded Parishioners on Patrol in Saginaw a few years ago to get more members of the community out and fighting crime.

He applauds the efforts MSP is taking to get more diverse troopers on the streets.

"When you can identify with African-Americans and Hispanics that have grown up in the inner city you have a connection," Camel said.

Camel said when he was growing up, police officers in the neighborhood were familiar faces, ones you didn’t just see when something bad happened.

He feels MSP's efforts to become more diverse would be a step in that direction.

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