SBPD open house aims to recruit minority members

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - There are many challenges every police department faces. For the South Bend Police Department, recruiting more minority police officers is one of them.

“The bottom line is, we want our department to mirror our community. That’s what we want,” South Bend Police Department spokesperson Ken Garcia said.

In order to move toward that goal, the department is trying to increase the applicant pool by hosting its inaugural recruiting open house at the South Bend Fire Department Training Center from 9–11 a.m. Saturday.

Applicants will be able to ask questions, take practice tests and receive tips from officers.

“Become an officer, help us be better, help us improve how we do things, because we can always be better. I don’t think anyone would ever say any police department in the country is 100% perfect," Garcia said.

According to SBPD, there are 240 officers on the force, 88% of whom are white. That leaves black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian and Asian Pacific Island making up the remaining 12% of the department.

Lynn Coleman is a former South Bend police officer and served on the department for 23 years. Coleman says the department needs to focus on being more diverse, especially right here at home.

“The police departments have to reflect the community that they serve, and not only do I think they need to recruit more minority officers, but I think we need to recruit minority officers from South Bend,” Coleman said.

Coleman also says one of the main reasons why the department has failed to recruit minorities is because of the culture surrounding the department.

“We have to make sure that we create a culture, an atmosphere to make potential recruits feel welcome, feel valued. That we really want you to be a part of this organization, and I don’t know how well we’ve done that over the years,” Coleman said.

So far, SBPD has received more than 70 applications during the hiring process. The deadline to apply is Aug 12.