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Gainesville police look to diversify

POSTED: March 9, 2013 12:44 a.m.

In an effort to diversify its force, the Gainesville Police Department is expanding its recruiting efforts, police officials said.

The goal, police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said, is to have a force that is more representative of the city’s diverse population.

“It’s a diverse city, and that’s a very good thing. We want to reflect that,” he said.

According to 2010 census figures, people of Hispanic or Latino origin in Gainesville number 14,058, or 41.59 percent of the city’s population. There are 5,143 black residents, 15.21 percent of the population, and 1,073 Asian residents, 3.17 percent.

Numbers for 2012 weren’t available; however, an agency that nationally accredits the department, The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, compared workforce demographics to sworn officers using 2008 census numbers.

In 2008, 77 percent of the available workforce was white, compared to 93 percent of police officers. Eight percent of the available workforce was black, compared to 5 percent of officers, and 8 percent Hispanic, compared to 2 percent of officers. That survey noted that the population could total more than 100 percent, as Hispanic can be included in other races.

The department’s online outreach efforts reflect an increasingly connected population as well. It launched a Facebook page at the end of February.

“This generation is very different from other generations as far as being the technologically advanced generation,” Holbrook said. “In the past, where advertising in local papers was enough, now it’s beyond that.”

A more old-fashioned advertisement residents may have noticed is a recruitment billboard, part of a partnership with Fairway Advertising, Holbrook said. The billboard, at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Martin Luther King Boulevard, is moved about every two weeks, Holbrook said.

“It’s helped us to increase our exposure. It’s a new, innovative way for us to market ourselves,” he said.

On Thursday, Holbrook was at the University of North Georgia for a job fair to recruit fresh college minds.

“It’s actually become very competitive nowadays going into law enforcement,” he said. “We just want to put ourselves out there and recruit the best.”


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