LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock Police Department is preparing for a new academy class later this summer, following an entrance exam on July 11.
But, how does a department go about recruiting new officers during this new wave of criticism and distrust of law enforcement?
LPD says they’re taking specific steps to recruit men and women the community will see as honorable and trustworthy by partnering with community leader Reggie Dial, a member of 100 Black Men of West Texas and one of the organizers of the solidarity march through downtown Lubbock.
While none of them deny there is a tough road ahead when it comes to recruiting and gaining the trust of the public, their hope is that this new partnership will help to bridge the gap.
“It’s a partnership to definitely try to recruit more minorities to the Lubbock Police Department,” Dial said.
He said that while this relationship is in its early stages, due to COVID-19, it’s a conversation that the department must have.
“We’re still in discussions about how exactly we’re going to go about, doing this right here is the first step, this right here is the first step to show unity.”
Dial said he was first contacted by LPD Officer Sharniece King. Officer King, who is originally from Florida, works alongside Officer Rachel Forrester, who came from Midland, Corporal Tino Blanco who hails from Lubbock and Lieutenant Chad Taska, from Houston - a diverse team that is hopeful their different backgrounds will be exactly what is needed to relate to community members from all walks of life.
“I’ve been on several different calls and been out in the community and it’s something to where they see that not only that I’m a female police officer, but a black female police officer... I just hope that seeing somebody as a role model in the community that helps other people apply," Officer King said.
“With me just being a female, I’ve been able to relate to people on calls that really needed it. Even though that might just be one call in the night of 20, 30 calls, it makes a difference to that one person that they were able to relate to you and that you were able to help them in a positive way,” Forrester said.
“I’m passionate because I’m from Lubbock, so, it makes me want to go out there and recruit other people who are from the community and who are from Lubbock to come work next to us, work with us,” Blanco said.
Lt. Taska says while LPD is using radio ads, billboards and social media to encourage community members to apply, he says the most important tool is face-to-face interaction, something Dial says he agrees with and believes will help to encourage different demographics to apply.
“I think if some individuals, some young people see us partnering up with the Lubbock Police Department, they’ll say 'Oh, it’s ok, I think we can talk to these individuals, I think we can relate to these individuals,” Dial said.
He also said that while the conversation will need to continue in order to determine the exact next steps within the community, the fact that this team took a moment to reach out is what means the most, “Because the reality is, a white man will never understand, will never be able to walk in my shoes, but if they could just walk beside me.”
Which is what Lt. Taska says they’re working to do, “We’re of the community and the police department is of the community and our goal is to reach people that maybe who didn’t think that this was an option. You don’t have to come in knowing how to be an officer, we’ll teach you how to be an officer. You just have to have the desire, the fire for the community and we’ll get you there.”
Dial says this relationship gives him hope for the future: “I am happy to be a part of this team. We can only do our part and so as long as we do our part and we give it our best, I think we’re going to be ok 10 or 15 years. I know we’re going to be ok, 10 or 15 years from now."
Those interested in joining the Lubbock Police Department can learn more at this link.