The Hartford Police Department is now recruiting for the people who will make up the fall academy.
They’re aiming for a class of 40-50 cadets with the hope that many of them will be people of color and women to make sure the police force looks like the city it serves.
The department is in its latest recruitment phase, wrapping at the end of the month and they’re putting it out; they want more Black and Latino officers on the force.
Right now, the Hartford Police Department is just 32 percent people of color, despite being in a city which consists of mostly minorities.
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Leaders said they want to get people thinking about careers on the force and to be the change they want to see in their community.
“It’s a slow process, but it is changing, and that’s why we’re here today, to encourage everyone that’s out there,” said veteran officer Lt. Marisol Rodriguez-Velez, who oversees career development in the department.
11 years ago, Officer Victor Marquez signed up to be part of that change, despite some hesitation from friends in his neighborhood.
“It didn’t go over very well. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what you feel is best for you. There’s no way to make a difference except for getting in here and making that difference," he said.
Officer Yanique Sinclair is one of the Hartford natives who answered the call to protect and serve when she joined 2 years ago as the nation prepared to face a reckoning about police and the community.
“I think it means a lot because now when they see an officer respond, especially a woman of color, they can relate. Like okay, he probably understands what I’m going through,” Sinclair said.
Pastor and community activist AJ Johnson said the diversifying policing matters, and so does changing the culture in departments to make sure officers are actually serving.
“The culture and climate of policing sometimes yields the same unintended value to Black officers in the way they think and respond to issues. It is completely understandable why people of color don’t want to be. But we also have to make sure in our police departments, we have people who look like us and from our area," Johnson said.
Applicants will need to pass a written and oral test as well as fitness assessment and background check to get a seat in the fall academy which is approximately 7 and a half months.
The department offers practice assistance for the written and oral tests.
Applicants from Hartford receive extra points on their applications. The starting officer salary is just over $61,000.
The application deadline is Monday, February 28 at 5 p.m.
Those interested can apply at policeapp.com