IMPD seeks more minority recruits

IMPD Ofc. Tronoy Harris works a beat in his old neighborhood.
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IMPD is aggressively recruiting more minority police officers.

The number of African-Americans in their target area of Marion County is 28 percent, but the number of black officers on the force, is just 13 percent. Hispanics make up nine percent of the population in Marion County, but only two percent of IMPD officers.

The department wants to close that gap so IMPD better represents the community it serves.

It all boils down to the ability to meet the needs of the community you serve and better fight crime when your force represents all of the diverse cultures.

"I feel like I'm in the place I need to be in," said IMPD Ofc. Tronoy Harris. Harris is a six-year veteran of the department.

"This is actually where I grew up in these apartments right here," he said while driving his beat.

He's serving on the same streets where he walked and played as a child.

"When I was growing up, this was an area where people were looked at as they had money," Harris said. "We used to play football right here in this little field here. "It's sad to see what kind of beating this neighborhood has taken due to the drug and gang activity."

That's what motivates Harris, one of a dwindling few minority police officers serving on the department. It's why he sees the desperate need to recruit more minorities.

"The individuals in that community like to see people who look like them," he said.

"Going back to civil rights, law enforcement was looked upon as the antagonist," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Hite acknowledges an image problem when it comes to the minority community, but he also has a few ideas to change that.

"I'm a good example. I rose from a cadet to chief, so it can happen, so we gotta spread the good news. There are some good things happening," Hite said.

Gripping videos and a new eye-catching recruitment website are just a few of the new tools to create a buzz. But the best approach remains good old fashioned word of mouth from those who've been there.

"I look at it as a privilege. It's a blessing just to be back here in an area where a lot of people have no hope. I've seen that growing up and I refuse to allow that to be me," Harris said.

To be considered as an IMPD recruit, you must have a high school diploma or GED, be self-motivated, goal-oriented, have good morale character and be physically fit.