With all the negative publicity several police departments are receiving, especially in cities such as Cleveland, New York, Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., do people seeking jobs still want to have a career as a police officer?
The local Black Knights Police Association thinks the answer is yes, and the organization has been spending the past month trying to get the word out that there is a need for blacks, Hispanics and women to try to become law-enforcement officers.
Minorities among the department’s 156 full-time patrol and ranking officers are underrepresented in a city with a large black and Hispanic population in the city.
The BKPA is recruiting minorities to take an upcoming civil-service test for open positions in the department.
There is an information session set for 6 p.m. Monday at the McGuffey Centre, 1649 Jacobs Road, where information and applications will be available.
Police officers are civil servants. Therefore, prospective applicants must take a civil-service exam that will be administered by the Youngstown Civil Service Commission. Information about that process also will be available at the session.
The applications must be submitted to the CSC between Feb. 16 and 26, and the civil-service exam will be given March 5.
Delphine Baldwin-Casey, a retired department detective sergeant and a former BKPA president, says it is important young people are approached and given the information to become a police officer.
She was approached by Leonard Williams Sr., a founding member of the BKPA, at a time when she was trying to figure out what she wanted to do for a living. Baldwin-Casey has been with the association for 37 years. She spent 31 years in the YPD, retiring in 2010.
“I have been retired for five years, but I am still involved with police recruiting. Police agencies across the country must mirror the diversity of people they represent and move forward,” she said.
Baldwin-Casey is now a consultant and an instructor. She was actively involved in the Youngstown Police Academy, where youths were exposed to police protocols and procedures.
She and other BKPA members have reached out to those students and others to consider police careers. They have been at local restaurants, department stores and other public venues.
The BKPA was founded in 1975. Among its goals:
Bring about reform in the police department in order to prevent corruption, racial discrimination and brutality.
Recruit local minorities to improve the relationship between the black community and black police officers.
Improve the social and physical welfare of local youths.
The organization has passed out candy and treats every Halloween for the city’s children and also has had numerous clothing drives.
The 12 charter members were Williams, Robert Bush, William “Butch” Johnson, Louis Averhart Sr., Dave Truman, Franklin “Buddy” Taylor, Clarence “Juice” Green, Sam Dubose, Rodney Lewis, Richard Carey, Ted Gillison and Ernest “Butch” Paul.
The nonprofit organization now has about 52 members from the YPD, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Youngstown State University Police Department and many retired police officers. Jimmy Hughes, former police chief, is the current president.
Eleven members of the BKPA filed a lawsuit against the city in reference to discrimination in the city police department. The suit was settled with a consent decree, which resulted in hiring of more blacks to the force and promotions of black officers.
Police work is not for everyone, but everyone should have the necessary knowledge and information presented to them to pursue that opportunity if they desire.
That is what the association wants to accomplish. It wants to reach out to the minority community to let members know a career awaits them, and it is willing to share what you need to do to begin that career at Monday’s session at the East Side center.
“The BKPA, The National Black Police Association and the National Association of Women Police cannot afford to remain inactive,” Baldwin-Casey said. “It is very important to review achievements and the failures of the past.”
To get information, call Baldwin-Casey at 330-559-1927.
Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at email@example.com