Law Enforcement Turns to HBCUs Amid Recruitment Problems

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In an effort to attract diverse officers, law enforcement agencies from around the world are focusing on recruiting candidates from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Departments try to solve a growing issue in law enforcement

Recruiting has been a major concern for several agencies across the country, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In fact, it has been observed that departments are “struggling to recruit and hire police officers. “

“The IACP survey on recruitment shows that the problem in recruiting law enforcement officers and staff is not due to one specific reason. Instead, a number of social, political and economic forces are all at play simultaneously in shaping the current recruitment and retention landscape.”

In response to this “crisis,” programs were established to generate interest in law enforcement careers at HBCUs.

Central State University in Ohio is one such institution, and Yarnell Rickett — an alumnus who works for the San Antonio Police Department — was flown in to talk to criminal justice majors and “recruit new police,” according to The Marshall Project.

‘Gateway’ HBCU: ‘Junior officers are needed, and now is the time’

Regarding this approach to recruiting, Rickett says, “Little officers are needed, and now is the time.”

“A generation of officers is leaving because they don’t like the transparency, the accountability…a lot of that old mentality in policing is leaving.”

Ericke Cage, president of West Virginia State University, has a similar position. He notes that “HBCUs can be a gateway” to better relations between police officers and the Black community.

“I believe that HBCUs can be a gateway. We can help get to that model of policing in the 21st century. It’s one that’s inclusive, and one that inspires trust and confidence on both sides of the equation.”

As for students in Central State’s criminal justice program, they are determined to “be part of the change.”

“People think all cops are bad, and I understand some of the reasons why…

Nya Norvelle, another Central State criminal justice major, recognized similar motivations.

“You can’t make anything better if you’re not willing to be part of the solution. Policing isn’t just about crime prevention – it’s also about building bridges.”

Lincoln University in Missouri established the First HBCU Police Academy

Another example of the growing relationship between HBCUs and law enforcement can be seen at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. The institution established the first ever HBCU police academy, which is run by Lincoln University Police Chief Gary Hill.

“Our academy is different from most academies. We teach Peace Officer Standards and Training, but we also talk about things we can do to make our neighborhoods better. You can find crime anywhere, but can you solve problems within your neighborhoods? To me, that’s real police work.”

The FBI got involved through programs like The Beacon Project

While we’re talking about the case, we have to point out that the FBI also jumped on the bandwagon.

Back in September, the Columbia field office of the FBI established a mentoring program with five HBCUs in South Carolina: Benedict College, Allen University, Claflin University, South Carolina State University and Morris College.

This initiative in South Carolina is related to the FBI’s Beacon Project, which was launched in 2021 to “foster relationships between the FBI and underrepresented communities.”

What do you think about law enforcement agencies trying to establish more relationships with HBCUs?


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