Police department aims at attracting more minorities

September 28, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Police Department invited educators and activists to an informal gathering at a Towson restaurant yesterday. The goal was to help make law enforcement careers more attractive to minorities.

Black officers make up 11 percent of the 1,635-member department, which serves a county that is about 15 percent black. Hispanic officers make up about 1 percent of the force and Asians account for less than 1 percent.

The department needs more minorities and women, but recruiting them is a national problem, said Services Bureau commander Col. M. Kim Ward.

Some may be wary of a career in law enforcement because of past wrongs, Ward said.

"We have to be honest about the history -- minorities have different concerns about their past with law enforcement. Trust is a big issue," she said.

Other barriers minority prospects might face include difficulty with English, a cultural history with oppressive police forces or a perceived lack of opportunity, said Leila Gonzalez-Sullivan, an educator who is on the department's Minority Advisory Board.

"Many of these young people may not be aware of what a good career this can be," she said.

Pub Date: 9/28/98

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