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Chesterfield Police concerned about lack of diversity highlighted in graduation photo

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Posted at 1:23 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 13:25:32-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Chesterfield Police likely posted a photo of its most recent graduating class on Facebook as a way to congratulate the new officers and introduce them to the community. While many people who saw the photo offered their congratulations, some noted the lack of diversity among the faces in the crowd.

“Seriously… Not one minority officer,” Sang Bailey wrote under the photo.

“Did the black guys get their own photo?” Trefor Davies asked.

“Does this class reflect the community it serves?” Donette Ellis wondered.

U.S. Census numbers estimate that 335,687 people lived in Chesterfield in 2015. About 24 percent — or about 80,000 people identified themselves as black or African-American, according to government statistics. Nearly 70-percent, or about 233,000 people, identified themselves as white.

Chesterfield Police noticed the comments under the posted photo and responded that they noticed the lack of diversity as well:

On Friday, we shared a photo of the graduates of our 66th Basic Police Academy. Several people commented on the photo to point out a lack of diversity among the graduates and note that the makeup of the class does not reflect the diversity of the community it will serve.

First, we want to thank these commenters for sharing their honest and thoughtful concerns.

Second, we want to say that we share these concerns.

We want our agency to reflect the diversity of our community, and we do actively recruit women and minorities.

We recognize that we have a long way to go to reach our goal.

Recruiting women and minorities is an ongoing challenge for many police departments, including ours.

In recent years, we’ve also seen a drop in the overall number of applications we receive, and, as you know, we can only hire people who apply.

But, here’s what we’re doing to reach our goal.

Over the past several years, we have partnered with community members and groups, to include the Chesterfield Chapter of the NAACP, to establish strong relationships with our minority communities.

We regularly recruit at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and we regularly send recruiters to a variety of diverse events.

We’re ready and willing to do more, and we are open to suggestions.

We also ask for your help.

If you know a person you think would be a great police officer, encourage them to apply.

If you are a person who has been thinking about a career in law enforcement and want to be part of the solution, we encourage you to apply.

Your actions will help improve our diversity efforts.

As always, we welcome help from our community.

We are currently hiring police officers. If you or someone you know has an interest in becoming a police officer with our agency, please apply online today at www.chesterfieldpd.com.

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