LYNCHBURG, Va. – Lynchburg police, Virginia State Police and the U.S. Army National Guard suited up to put on their second annual Joint Diversity Career Fair on Saturday. The goal is to recruit men and women from all backgrounds to better represent the communities they serve.
Lynchburg police say they need to hire 15 to 20 people to join the force. However, Officer Allen Kittrell says it's tough getting new recruits, let alone women or minorities.
"Right now, I think we're a little bit below what the community reflects," Kittrell said. "It's not because we're not trying, it's just that we haven't had enough applicants who are minorities make it through our process."
Other law enforcement agencies at the fair agree that police need to represent the communities they protect and serve in order to build trust.
"Me being a minority officer, sometimes I have been able to speak with minorities of the community," Kittrell said. "I think it made them feel good and they were able to connect with me."
According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 27 percent of local police officers are minorities, compared to 15 percent in 1987, though the average number of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 U.S. residents dropped 11 percent from 1997 to 2016.
That's why officers want to let everyone know they're hiring.
"We've got to have that support from our community in order to make it a safer place," said Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Brad Crews. "That's our ultimate goal, is public safety."
Applications are still open. To find out how to apply, contact state police, the Army National Guard or Lynchburg police.