Metro police departments making concerted effort to recruit more diverse forces

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A source of tension in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown was that the police force was predominately white in a minority community.

Metro police departments say they're seeking more women and minorities in their ranks-in fact agencies are actively recruiting them.

Police departments are looking to hire a diverse group of officers to reflect the populations they serve.  That's why departments all around Kansas and Missouri took part in Thursday's minority police recruitment drive.

"I think I could make a difference in my community, I'm from the community," said Cameron Martin, who's not a policeman yet, but he's already filled out an application for the Kansas City, Mo. Police Department.

He attended the recruitment drive to learn more about the different departments.

"I think a lot of minorities just believe that they won't get the job," said Officer Luis Virgil, who has been an officer for 10 years; almost two of those years spent with the Independence Police Department.

"The fact that I can speak Spanish and reach out to more people it just makes it even better," said Ofc. Virgil, who is a first-generation American.

He says his Hispanic origin has helped him better serve the community.

"In fact, last night we had a domestic violence call that involved people who speak Spanish, and had I not been there, I don't know how they would have handled the call," Ofc. Virgil added.

Officer Gordon  Herndon grew up in inner-city Chicago, and has been an officer for 15 years.

"I really wanted people to know that everyone who looked like me was not a criminal," said Ofc. Herndon.

Ofc. Herndon said he wanted to make a positive impact on the community, the same reason is why Martin is applying.

"To show kids and different people in our community that there are good cops, there are good people out here, so I figured if I can do it, I can show the next kid, or next person that you can do it too," Martin said.

Both Martin and Ofc. Herndon agree their choice of profession is sometimes hard to explain to friends and family.

"It might be frowned upon in their community just with certain run-ins or people don't really get to know the police as well," said Martin.

"They only see the badge or the uniform, and they kind of fear that," Ofc. Herndon said.

The goal of Thursday's recruitment drive was to show there are minorities already in the force, so those who are intimidated to apply will not be alone, but there's always room for improvement.

"They have to actually take a chance and apply and I think they'd be surprised if they just tried," Ofc. Virgil said.

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