Today, Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) announced that she secured $75,000 for the Cheektowaga Central School District and Hilbert College to launch a Law Enforcement Pilot Program in order to educate and work with students on possible careers in law enforcement. By encouraging more young people to consider careers in law enforcement, the program will help police departments overcome longstanding challenges in recruitment and diversity.
Recent surveys of law enforcement show police departments have faced increased retirements and resignations, along with decreased hiring, over the past couple of years. Additionally, despite efforts to increase diversity within the ranks, many police departments continue to struggle to attract minority officers; some large police forces have seen their share of black officers decrease over the past decade. Numerous studies and anecdotal evidence show that when police departments are representative of the community they serve, the public has more trust and confidence in law enforcement.[i]
Under the Law Enforcement Pilot Program, Cheektowaga Police Department officers will speak to and work with students at Cheektowaga Central High School in order to educate students on possible careers in law enforcement, with a focus on low-income and students of color. Program funding will also help Cheektowaga Central High School students participate in Hilbert College’s Duel Enrollment courses related to law enforcement.
“Numerous studies have found that more diverse police departments have better relations with the public they serve, which results in less tension, more cooperation with law enforcement, and safer conditions for all,” said Assemblymember Wallace. “Unfortunately, police forces across the country have long struggled to hire enough minority officers to be truly representative of their communities. By encouraging teens to consider careers in law enforcement now, we can create a large and diverse pool of candidates that local police departments can later recruit from. I thank the Cheektowaga Central School District, Hilbert College, and the Cheektowaga Police Department for working collaboratively on this effort to support law enforcement recruitment and improve trust in local police.”
“Recruiting qualified and diverse candidates is an ongoing challenge for the Cheektowaga Police Department – and one that has only grown more difficult over the last four or five years,” said Chief Brian Gould. “As always, we are limited to hiring the folks who pursue a law enforcement career, score well on police exams, and meet various other requirements. So, to address these challenges in recruitment and diversity, we really need to get more young people thinking about a career in law enforcement at an early age. We thank Assemblymember Wallace for her continued support and look forward to working with Cheektowaga Central schools and Hilbert College to generate more interest in jobs in law enforcement.”
“As educators, our job is not only to teach the fundamentals, but to help students pursue successful careers, thrive in their future endeavors and support their community,” said Cheektowaga Central High School Principal Karin Cyganovich. “By getting students to think about working in law enforcement now, we may be opening the door to a successful and fruitful career for many students, as well as helping to improve relations between police and the public here in our community. We thank Assemblymember Wallace for securing funding to start this vital program and her continued support of Cheektowaga Central schools.”
“We at Hilbert College are excited to begin this partnership with Cheektowaga Central High School and Cheektowaga Police Department to educate the next generation of law enforcement officers,” said Dr. Martin Floss, a professor of criminal justice at Hilbert College. “Hilbert College is a Franciscan College that promotes traditional values that include respect, service, hope, integrity, compassion, and peace.Building on these values, Criminal Justice students receive an interdisciplinary curriculum that improves their critical thinking and problem-solving skills that helps them better understand the world and people around them.Improved understanding of the human condition allows them to become the law enforcement officers that communities are demanding.”[ii]