With a dozen patrol jobs to fill, the Tacoma Police Department is reaching out to minorities in the community and hosting workshops to help prepare candidates for the rigorous testing process.
“We are hoping to get some diversity,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said. “We would like representatives from our community actually applying at our Police Department.”
In Tacoma, 65 percent of the residents are white and 87 percent of the Police Department is white, according to police statistics. Four percent of the force identifies itself as black, 2 percent as Hispanic, 6 percent as Asian and 0.5 percent as Native American. The remaining 0.5 percent identifies itself as “other.”
Hiring coordinator Manuela Loth appealed to a few black community groups for their help in getting word out to those who have considered a career in law enforcement. She said she also plans to speak with schools and churches.
The hope is to boost the number of minority applicants to ensure the numbers stay high through the entire testing process because the drop-off rate among all candidates is significant. In 2011, 3,415 applications were turned in. Of those, 244 were cleared to move on to the next stage. That number dropped to 203 at the next level of review, Loth said. In the end, three candidates were hired.
The more recruits there are, Loth said, the more qualified candidates there are to choose from.
By next year, the department will have 12 open patrol positions due to attrition. Applications will be accepted from Nov. 1 to Jan. 6. Tests will begin in April.
The department hired four officers earlier this year after talk of budget constraints and layoffs prompted some relatively new officers to take jobs elsewhere.
To alleviate concerns among potential recruits and to increase the pool of successful candidates, the department is hosting four workshops this month to go over hiring requirements and expectations. This is the first time in a decade the department has hosted workshops for recruits.
Sixteen people have signed up so far. Attending the workshops is not required but will certainly help recruits, Loth said.
Each workshop will build on the previous one, and those who attend all four will receive a certificate of completion, Loth said.
Instructors will discuss the hiring process, which includes a background check, written exam, physical agility test, medical exam, polygraph test and board interview. They will also talk about nutrition and training plans, give briefings on various sections of the department, run through core values of the department and offer tips on how to get ahead.
“I’m hoping this will prepare them better so they can be more successful,” Loth said, adding she will hold more workshops if there’s enough interest.
What: Workshops for those interested in becoming Tacoma police officers
When: 7-9 p.m. every Monday
Where: The civic room at the Tacoma police headquarters, 3701 South Pine St.
To sign up: Those interested in attending should email the department’s hiring coordinator, Manuela Loth, at email@example.com. Registration is not necessary, but the department can accommodate only 50 people.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com