Thomasville PD seeks minority applicants

Jul. 30, 2014 @ 12:04 PM

As the Thomasville Police Department attempts to ramp up community engagement, one method emerged from last Tuesday’s community meeting at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

TPD Chief Jeff Insley fielded questions from concerned citizens at the meeting, during which the arrest of six suspects involved in a string of violent crimes prompted discussion of race relations in Thomasville. Former Chair City councilwoman Jackie Jackson posed questions regarding the cultural diversity of the police department and how officers deal with those who “do not look like them”.

Insley said he is concerned at the small number of minority officers.

Requirements for new hires at TPD include a high school diploma, the absence of a criminal history, a clean medical history and the ability to pass a series of interviews. Applicants traditionally take classes at local community colleges for basic law enforcement training.

“There is no [diversity],” Insley said. “Finding minority applicants is very, very difficult. The applicant pool just isn't there. We’ve begged folks. The last rookie class did not include an African-American male or female.”

As for the current’s staff handling of cultural barriers, Insley said officers undergo a process of training on how to respond sensitively to the needs of each neighborhood within the city. The perception of escalating racial tension between citizens and law enforcement is one he believes does not extend to the Chair City.

“We have to go through mandated in-service training,” Insley said. “There is a block dealing with cultural differences and allowing people to understand differences, and to remember that you respect the person, not the color of the skin, not the dialect that they speak, but the person. One thing we can probably do is a better job of reinforcing that.”

According to Insley, four patrol teams are divided between districts to meet the unique needs of each community.

Currently, TPD has five job openings, but the positions are frozen until September, when Insley will begin the process of filling spots on the force. The Rev. P. Michael McNair, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, said he knew of eight prospective black applicants. Insley encouraged McNair to have the individuals contact him.

“I look for the right person, the person who can come in and represent the community and our agency and treat everybody fairly,” Insley said.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.