ORLANDO, Fla. – Experts in Central Florida are looking at police recruitment and its impact one year after the murder of George Floyd as many police departments nationwide have seen a fluctuation in staffing.
According to experts, many departments have already been in the process of looking for more diverse candidates and said police recruitment hasn’t stalled since last year’s disruptions and call for police reform. In some cases, recruitment has grown.
“Recruitment hasn’t really fell off for us, our applications are still at an all-time high… we’re still getting quality applicants,” Cpt. Ron Shaw with Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said.
Shaw said they’re overstaffed in some departments.
The department has more than 1,400 employees and Shaw said despite increased scrutiny on law enforcement, they’ve continued to have success in getting a diverse pool of candidates.
“We’ve been able to in our last two academy classes, I think the most diverse we’ve had,” Shaw said.
Last year, according to the department, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office hired 12 Black deputies, which is the highest they’ve had in one year.
Shaw said recent recruits have also been having tougher conversations so they can come prepared to face anything when they hit the streets.
“We have a subcommittee that’s designed just to augment what we are already doing in training, which is to work on vehicles and avenues so that we have these conversations and some things we can do to make sure we remain progressive as we are,” Shaw said.
This stance on having hard conversations echoed with the Orlando Police Department, which in a statement said, “We remain committed to improving policies and training that will enhance public safety.”
Over at the University of Central Florida, the university said since last year, it’s had positive trends on enrollment in the criminal justice program with each student having their own reasons.
“There is a lot of motivation grounded in wanting to help people and there is certainly recently much more talk about more talk of wanting to help rectify disparity,” UCF professor Jacinta Gua said.
Gua said Americans should not stop having tough conversations and encouraged police to continue highlighting the results they get for their community.
“Police really need to take the lead in mending their own public image and really pushing, ‘Here is what our officers have did today,’ not, ‘Here is how many arrests we’ve made,’” Gua said.
To take it a step further, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a public service academy with various county schools that will start in August.