HUDSON—Opportunity is knocking for minorities and women considering a career in law enforcement.
Community leaders, police and non-profits are working together to increase diversity in local, state and federal police agencies through a Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative (LEDI).
The program was introduced to the media in a Galvan Foundation conference room in the Hudson Area Library, Monday afternoon as the county hunkered down for the blizzard that wasn’t.
Hudson Supervisors William Hughes, Jr., (4th Ward) and Richard Scalera (5th Ward), Operation Unite President and retired State Police Lieutenant Gregory Mosley, Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore and Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett all attended and spoke during the briefing.
In announcing the initiative and giving some background, Mr. Hughes said he and Mr. Scalera met with the sheriff shortly after the November election to brainstorm about a program that would tap into “the wealth of law enforcement talent in our community.” With Mr. Mosley and Chief Moore on board, what came together was a “unique and intense program—free to candidates—that will get them physically, emotionally and intellectually ready for a career in law enforcement,” Mr. Hughes said.
The effort starts with recruitment by the Sheriff’s Office and Hudson Police and other agencies, which will do outreach in communities at high schools and colleges, at Questar and Explorer Posts, seeking minorities interested in a law enforcement career.
According to 2013 Columbia County Quick Facts from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 90% of the county’s population is white, which means 10% of the population identify themselves as members of other races.
Sheriff Bartlett says he has 6 minority officers (African American and Hispanic) in his road patrol and jail divisions, which employ about 150 people total. Those divisions also have 17 women officers.
Chief Moore cites 2010 census figures, which indicate about 40% Hudson residents are members of a minority, while on the police force of 25, 3 minorities and 3 women are employed.
Mr. Mosley, the LEDI program director, will run the program’s preparatory course, a six-month program that meets once a month at the Chamber of Commerce Office at 1 North Front Street. The course will include field trips, physical fitness training, question and answer sessions with law enforcement officials, police ride-alongs, unpaid internships in the criminal justice system, First-Aid training for first responders, law enforcement exam preparation, introductions to State Penal and Criminal Procedure Law, cultural diversity and awareness training and ethical awareness training.
A long list of guest speakers include a State Police superintendent, director of human resources, personnel director and police academy lieutenant; the district attorney; sheriff; police chief; county judge; criminal defense attorney and retired New York City Police detective.
Mr. Mosley directed a similar program previously with 10 candidates, 7 of whom now have jobs in law enforcement.
Organizers would like to enlist 5 to 10 program candidates initially, but if 10 to 20 are interested, “we’ll handle them,” said Mr. Mosley, noting “it’s a challenge to get qualified minorities to the table.” While some “know where they want to be, they do not know how to get there.”
Minority or women candidates can come from anywhere in the state, they should be between 18 and 29 years old, have a valid New York State driver’s license, be of good moral character and have a desire to work in law enforcement. A high school diploma and/or college credits are not necessary.
Though candidates cannot become a police officer until they are 21, Mr. Mosley said it’s important “to catch them early” to begin to groom them before they make a decision that might result in disqualification, such as getting an extensive visible tattoo.
The program is voluntary and candidates will receive no accreditation. The preparatory program will help those who are not yet ready to take State Police, Sheriff’s Office or local police department civil service tests and will be important for those looking to attend the Zone 14 Police Academy.
When a candidate is deemed ready by Mr. Mosley, they will be referred to the LEDI program’s selection committee for scholarship consideration.
At the request of Mr. Scalera, The Galvan Foundation, a local not-for-profit organization for which Mr. Scalera is an advisor, will provide financial support in two phases. The foundation will give $10,000 for the core program directed by Mr. Mosley and $20,000 in scholarships for qualified, selected candidates to attend the local Zone 14 Police Academy, which “will provide the candidate with yet another opportunity to enter the field of law enforcement or related fields,” according to Galvan Scholars program literature.
Sheriff Bartlett said in a follow-up phone call that the program will produce “a pool of better candidates” for all law enforcement agencies and, while his office already engages in outreach recruitment, this program will help reach local individuals and communities that might otherwise be missed, including Muslims, Bangladeshis, Hispanics and women. “It’s about the bigger picture, it works for everybody,” said the sheriff.
Chief Moore said to get qualified candidates it’s important to disseminate information about test preparedness, physical standards, conduct and behavioral expectations, education and understanding of the law.
“If the only people I have to choose to hire from on civil service test lists are white males, then it’s out of my control, but I believe we will face criticism.” He said the LEDI program is a “win-win” for his department to be able to tap into the minority community to get the best involved, regardless of race. “It’s not affirmative action; it’s simply picking the best of the best,” he said.
Chief Moore said police departments rely on community trust for help and support, and having a more diverse department will help build that trust.
The LEDI program is “monumental and timely,” said Mr. Mosley noting that it brings all facets of the community together to make a better police force. He said agencies on the national level should take notes.
The first program session takes place Monday, February 23 at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.
Interested candidates should contact Mr. Hughes at 518 828-4134, Mr. Scalera at 518 929-6985, Mr. Mosley at 518 965-3808 or Operation Unite at 518 828-3612 no later than Friday, February 13.
To contact Diane Valden email