New Bloomington Police Chief Dan Donath said he's making diversity on the police force a priority.
Donath said the department is down to just one African-American and four Hispanics. Donath said he wants a department that looks more like the community.
“If you look at people’s psychology and how they feel comfortable relating to police and reporting things to the police and being involved with the police, we as human beings tend to gravitate toward human beings that look like us,” Donath said.
Donath said the department is working with the Bloomington Public Safety and Community Relations Board and minority groups in the community to survey minorities about why they aren't seeking careers in law enforcement.
Donath said he also welcomes the different perspectives that come with having a more diverse police force.
“The way you see life is not the only way that people have different perspectives of how life works, and you have a greater appreciation for what they say in that you have more respect for that,” Donath said.
Donath added he'd also like to hire more female officers. The department has five female officers now, which he noted is an increase in recent years.
“We’ve had good success here in recent times in adding a few female officers,” Donath said. “It seemed like it was always around two or three before, so we’ve been able to improve upon that.
“I’d absolutely welcome more female officers.”
Donath said the general pool of police applicants has been on the decline in recent years, but he doesn’t believe that has diminished the quality of officer the department has been able to attract.
“We’ve been really fortunate to get good people, but we just understand that the bigger the pool and the more applicants you get, the better the chance you have,” Donath conceded.
He said BPD plans to hire at least three officers next year but that could grow to as high as 10 if the city budget allows.
Applications are due Jan. 15, 2020. Starting pay is $67,000.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.