LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock Police Department will welcome its newest round of academy recruits next week.
This particular class arrives following an effort to recruit more minorities into the department, to better reflect the demographic makeup of Lubbock.
The KCBD Investigates team took a look at what it takes to get into Lubbock’s Police Academy and examined the ethnic breakdown of these new recruits, giving Lubbock an idea of how this effort is going.
In early June, the Lubbock Police Department’s Recruitment Team partnered with 100 Black Men of West Texas. Their goal? To increase minority recruiting and create a more diverse police force. Three months later, that effort has produced a new crop of candidates.
Lubbock police and their community partners are now ready to give this initiative its first report card.
Our team asked, “What grade would you give y’all’s team? On the effort made and the results of that effort?”
“I think a solid B. I think that we’ve made some great improvements and we’ve seen some improvements. I think there’s some work to be done, and that’s ok,” said Lieutenant Chad Taska, weighing in on LPD’s new minority recruitment efforts.
He says recent billboards, radio ads and social media, aimed at bringing in a diverse group of candidates, brought in a total of 331 who applied online.
However, out of that number, only 143 showed up to take the written test in mid-July.
So, our team asked, “Is that normal?”
“It is normal. It’s not uncommon for that to happen,” Taska said.
Those 143 applicants were then cut to 97 after a third of them failed the written test.
After that came the physical test, background check and interview with LPD Command Staff which whittled that 97 down to less than 25.
As our Investigates team looked more closely at the reduced numbers, we noticed something in particular, “Across the board, it doesn’t matter the race, the gender - the majority of people got cut during the background process. So, talk to me then about that background process, what are those investigators looking for?”
“We want to talk to family members about the applicant. We look at work history, financial history, any kind of criminal history they may have within a certain amount of time. Convictions, lawsuits, stuff like that. Sometimes people will voluntarily withdraw from the background process because they don’t want to explain to a board what’s in their history,” Taska said.
So we asked, “Do you find that people go through all this effort, do all the things and then it comes down to the drug test, or something else after that Chief interview, that they don’t make it through?”
“Yes. It’s not uncommon to lose one or two applicants that have completed the whole process, got the conditional job offer and either they don’t pass the drug test, or they don’t show up for the drug test on time, or during polygraph, they admit to stuff they left out of their PHS (personal history statement),” Taska said.
Looking back over the numbers, the recruitment class went from 143 applicants testing, to 16 official Lubbock Police recruits, which means either 127 applicants didn’t pass one of the stages, or they chose to remove themselves from the process.
After this intense and extensive screening process, how does Lubbock’s 2020C Academy Class compare against the ethnic breakdown of the city?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau of Statistics, Lubbock’s ethnic breakdown is 52.6% White, 35.2% Hispanic and 8.1% Black. Leaving all other races at approximately five percent.
Once we calculated the numbers, we then took them to Reggie Dial, a member of 100 Black Man of West Texas, who contributed his voice to radio ads promoting the test, to ask if this partnership, along with the recruitment efforts, is helping to create a more diverse police department.
“I think that’s a great start. I really do,” Dial said. “It gives me hope, yes. It gives me hope and like Lt. Chad Taska said, we still got a long way to go. We still have a little ways to go, but this helps. This helps. I think we’re better than we were yesterday.”
After reviewing the numbers, we then asked Dial, “What grade would you give PD?”
“I would give it a B-minus," he said. "I would give it a B-minus and only because - and I don’t think it has anything to do more so with the academy itself, I think it’s more so me getting out there and letting people know the importance of the people in my community, the importance of becoming part of the police academy. You know, the importance of being a police officer.”
You can find more information on the LPD academy and applications for recruitment on the City’s website, here.