Law Enforcement Turns To HBCUs Amid Recruiting Difficulties

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In an effort to attract diverse officers, law enforcement agencies from all over are setting out to recruit candidates from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Departments Seek To Resolve A Growing Issue In Law Enforcement

Recruitment has been a serious concern for various agencies across the country, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In fact, it’s been observed that departments are “struggling to recruit and hire police officers.”

“The IACP survey on recruitment demonstrates that the difficulty in recruiting law enforcement officers and employees is not due to one particular cause. Rather, multiple social, political, and economic forces are all simultaneously at play in shaping the current state of recruitment and retention.”

In response to this “crisis,” programs have been established to help boost 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 speak to criminal justice majors and “recruit new police,” according to The Marshall Project.

The HBCU ‘Gateway’: ‘Minority Officers Are Needed, And Now Is The Time’

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

“There is a generation of officers who are leaving because they don’t like the transparency, the accountability…a lot of that ‘old’ thinking in policing is going away.”

Ericke Cage, the president of West Virginia State University, shares a similar stance. He notes that “HBCUs can serve as a gateway” for better relations between police officers and the Black community.

“I believe HBCUs can serve as a gateway. We can help get to that model of 21st century policing. It is one that is inclusive, and one that inspires trust and confidence on all sides of the equation.”

As for students in Central State’s criminal justice program, they’re on a mission to “be a part of the change.”

“People think that all cops are bad, and I understand some of the reasons why…but I want to be a part of change,” a student named Connor Saxon-Boclear shared.

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

“You can’t make anything better unless you are willing to be a part of the solution. Policing is not just about crime prevention—it is also about bridge building.”

Lincoln University In Missouri Established The First HBCU Police Academy

Another example of the growing relationship between HBCUs and law enforcement is seen at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. The institution established of 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 the required Peace Officer Standards and Training, but we also talk about things that we can do to make our neighborhoods better. You can find crime anywhere, but can you solve problems within your neighborhoods? To me, that is true policing.”

The FBI Got Involved Through Programs Like The Beacon Project

While speaking on the matter, we have to point out that the FBI also jumped on the ball.

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

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

What do you think about law enforcement agencies attempting to establish more of a relationship with HBCUs?




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