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Why diversity matters in police departments

Rochester, N.Y. - A topic that is often brought up when talking about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri is diversity.

The majority of its residents are African-American, with an almost all white police force.

That's not the case in Rochester, where its police department has had a record year for diversity.

There are a total of 732 officers.

According to Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli, as of February 2014, 180 of those officers are minorities.

That's about 25%

Here's how that breaks down.

83 of those officers are African-American, 80 are Hispanic, 12 are Asian and 5 are Native American.

When it comes to recruiting minorities, this may have been the best year yet for Rochester Police.

"The class that's in training now and the one before that broke the record for the number of minorities in an RPD recruit class," Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli said.

Chief Ciminelli said he recognizes the value of diversity.

"It's important the department reflect the community it serves," said Ciminelli. "I also want to say the community has to be comfortable with the police department it does have and actually good cops come in all colors but having said that, we do want to intensify, even improve our efforts to recruit qualified minorities. "

Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden said the city police department has come a long way.

"It's all about the will and the want to make the department diverse, you have that now and for a long time you didn't," McFadden said.

It's a reflection residents in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities across the country don't always see.

That's why Rochester City councilman Adam McFadden and other city leaders say diversity matters.

"The population that pays for the service must be reflected in the service. It's as simple as that," McFadden said. "It's not even about skin color. What about the fact that the majority don't live there? That's a problem. So your taxes are going outside the community and not even being spent in the community. "

But it can be a challenge getting minorities onboard.

"I think across the board, it's been difficult and I think that goes back to 911 where people see this job in an entirely different light. I think the difficulties of the job present itself to not only minorities but anyone seeking this job," said Rochester Police Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo.

City leaders believe that if police officers begin to reflect their communities, there will be a better relationship and understanding between officers and the residents who live there.

McFadden brought the events in Ferguson to city council's attention at Tuesday night's meeting.

He stressed the importance of transparency among leaders.

"We must be consistent in our message. We have a responsibility to protect those who don't have a voice," McFadden said.

McFadden is also the President of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

He said he plans to travel to Ferguson, Missouri  in the next week.

Chief Ciminelli said he plans to continue the department's push to recruit minorities.

RPD has a new recruitment campaign set to kick off next week.








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