LIMA — What began over a year ago as a report to Lima City Council titled “Shades of Blue” — calling for increased, deliberate efforts to recruit minority candidates into law enforcement and other public safety fields — has grown into a task force working with Lima area post-secondary institutions to make the road to public service careers easier for minorities.
On Thursday, the Lima Area Public Safety Diversity Task Force met at Rhodes State College to discuss future plans for furthering this goal.
For task force member John Bowker, those future plans now involve getting the word out to the minority community, especially those in high school or even elementary school, about the benefits of choosing careers in these fields.
“Our next step is to start tapping into any communication channel made available to us, whether it is The Lima News, the TV channels, Londell (Smith’s) program or whatever to start talking about this initiative,” he said. “We want to continue to use the term ‘community guardians’ to change the vernacular about this.”
Part of the issue for this task force is “planting the seed” of the benefits of these careers in the minds of minority youth, and one of the best ways to do that, Bowker said, is to have current minority public safety personnel in front of them to offer an example. The issue now is that there are not many current candidates from which to choose.
“We have to put that image in front of them,” Bowker said.
Another issue that was brought up was the methodologies the Lima Police Department currently uses as perceived by the minority community, a concern voiced by Lima NAACP president Ronald Fails.
“The idea is that they’re going to stop everything that moves until they find a Timothy McVey,” he said. “Many urban communities are going to a methodology of high police presence, not high police contact. The methodology of the Lima Police Department is high police contact, not high police presence, which is a big difference. We want high presence because we want to be safe, but high contact can be detrimental when you’re trying to build a bridge.”
The task force hopes to begin reaching out to Lima schools as well as facilities like the Bradfield Center and the Mizpah Center in hopes of building communication channels with minority youth.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.