Glad probe over, city diversifying force

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Bowling Green Police Department because it found the BGPD had a lower than would be expected percentage of African-Americans in uniform.

The DOJ expressed concern that, given the city’s African-American population is 14 percent, the police force was only 5 percent African-American.

It appeared then and now that the DOJ had a valid complaint.

In response to the DOJ’s investigation, the city was proactive and formed a Workforce Recruitment and Outreach Committee in September to help review hiring practices and to help recruit more minorities to the city’s police force as well as other departments.

In February, the city commission voted to hire 10 police officers, including three African-Americans and one Hispanic. The pool of 173 applicants the city drew from for that hire was more diverse than the previous pools after the city reached out to previous minority candidates encouraging them to apply again. Of the total applicants, 27 percent were minorities; in the last seven hiring cycles from 2012 to 2014, 9 percent of the applicants were minorities.

Some serious accomplishments have obviously been made with the recruitment effort of minorities by the police department as these numbers indicate. A lot of this was due to the city being proactive and establishing this commission and reaching out for more minorities to apply to be police officers.

The city also ceased to use a specific national test after the city’s analysis showed the test was a disqualifying a disproportionately high number of minority candidates.

This was also a wise move by the city as it appeared the test was potentially disqualifying a high number of minority candidates who wanted to become BGPD police officers.

We have no reason at all to believe that there was any ill-advised intent to keep minorities off the police force in years past, but we are glad that more minorities are now joining the force.

We are also glad that the DOJ has notified the city and advised them that it has ended its investigation into the BGPD.

Although the DOJ didn’t indicate why it ended the investigation, we know the city is glad that it did.

Bowling Green is a diverse city and our police department should reflect that diversity. Through much time and hard work by many we believe the city and our police force have made progress to achieve the goal of reflecting that diversity within their ranks.

Bowling Green Daily News

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