Efforts to increase racial and gender diversity in the Henderson Police Department have been paying off, according to city officials.
The most recent proof was at a police recruitment event Feb. 9 at the Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water St., where attendees totaled between 350 and 400, many of them minorities, said Michelle French, Henderson police spokeswoman.
About 292 attendees filled out questionnaires, and 71 percent were racial minorities and women, according to French.
Diversity among the department’s employees helps with community relations and also builds trust from the public, said Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers. It also fosters further diversity in the department, he said.
“Communities want to see their police department reflective of how they look,” Moers added.
Aside from the Feb. 9 event, the department also hosted recruitment nights in January and early March. The next round is set to start in January 2017, Moers said.
Efforts to bolster diversity in the police department have included establishing individual committees focusing on women and residents who are black, Asian and Hispanic, with the goal of reaching out to those communities, Moers said, adding that representatives from the department also attend job fairs and other events around the Las Vegas Valley.
Moers said that about two years ago, the department started casting a wider net for applicants, contracting with the National Testing Network to allow candidates in 22 other states to apply for law enforcement jobs in Henderson.
In 2014, the department hired 70 percent Caucasian men and 30 percent women and racial minorities, said Kristin Maier, human resources business partner for the police department. Last year, the department hired 50 percent Caucasian men and 50 percent women and racial minorities, she said.
The department currently has 350 Caucasian employees, 18 black employees, 18 Asian, 31 Hispanic and one Native American, Maier said, of whom 124 are women.
Moers said residents from minority groups many times do not pursue law enforcement careers for various reasons, such as mistrust of police and gender and racial stereotypes. Some families might steer their children away from the profession, too, he said.
Job openings in the department occur regularly due to attrition and the ability to add new positions due to the More Cops sales tax fund, Moers said.
To reach Henderson View reporter Cassandra Keenan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-383-0278. Find her on Twitter: @CassandraKNews.