TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Police Department is reaching out to the community trying to answer a key question. How do they diversify?
The Topeka police department’s responsibility is to protect and serve the capital city. The motto is on every police officer’s badge. But, the race of police officers behind the badge does not often mirror the community they serve.
“We are trying to be better about that,” Officer Brandon Gogian said.
Only 41 police officers on the Topeka Police Force are not white and only eight….are African American men. There are zero African American females on the force and only 32 sworn female officers.
“Shocking… That’s not a picture of the community,” Tiffani Jones, a concerned resident said.
That shock brought Tiffani Jones to tears.
“It emphasized how much we need to do to make a diverse police force,” Jones said.
The lack of diversity leads to issues protecting and serving the community.
“If you are not familiar or have not been involved with people that do not look different from you and interact with them,” Jones said. “Then how can you go into those communities and understand what they are saying and what the issues they are dealing with.”
Topeka Police Department recognized the problem starting the Community Recruiter Seminars this past January. These seminars are bringing the community in to help solve the equation and make the numbers work.
“We want to make sure that we are hiring a diverse group of people from all sorts of backgrounds races, genders, religion so that we can be a better reflection of the city we serve,” Officer Gogian said.
Jones came here to see the change and she knows there are places police are not and should be.
“Go into the break-down of the student groups,” Jones said. “They have black student groups, Hispanic student groups, go into those groups and make sure you are there.”
“We are not where we want to be but we are taking strides to get there,” Officer Gogian said.
Officer Gogian says the department will be holding more community recruiting events in the future.