Despite recent efforts to recruit more minority officers, the applicant pool for the Dayton Police Department still does not reflect the race and gender of the city.
The department is currently accepting applications for its next police recruit class through April 26. As of April 8, of the 282 applications received since the department began accepting applications, less than 25% are non-white, less than 16% are Black and less than 19% are female, according to records from the Dayton Civil Service Department.
Citizens appointed to a police reform committee found those numbers alarming but not surprising.
In a city that is nearly 40% Black, about 6% of the police department is Black (22 out of 353 officers), according to numbers provided by the city.
On Friday, the Dayton Police Department swore in 16 new officers, 14 of whom are white and non-Hispanic. The class includes five women.
Dayton Police Lt. Andrew Gillig said in an emailed statement: “We are striving to find candidates who meet the department’s high standards and uphold its core values of professionalism, integrity, respect, and fairness. To achieve this end, the department has created a full-time recruiting position to collaborate with community stakeholders. The department has had representation at various community events and job fairs to find applicants who will reflect the community and its values.”
For more information on becoming a Dayton police officer, go to www.joindaytonpd.com, or call Officer Salli Jones at (937)-333-1024. Starting salary in 2020 for a Dayton police officer was $57,761.60 annually.
Members of the Recruitment, Promotion and Discipline Working Group, one of several committees formed last year to give police reform recommendations to the City Commission, are calling for more Daytonians of color to apply to the police academy.
Travis Dunnington, a Montgomery County assistant public defender and member of the working group, said he never imagined he would be part of helping a police department recruit, but diversifying the police is important.
“Over and over again, I have seen clients in both Florida and Ohio being treated differently by police and by the justice system due to their skin color,” he wrote in a letter to the editor submitted to the Dayton Daily News. “I am asking for the community’s help in identifying reform-minded citizens, especially applicants of color and female applicants … I truly believe that there is opportunity to be a part of the change coming for the department, from the inside out.”
The working group submitted a total of 30 recommendations on recruitment and promotion in the last six months. Of those, 14 recommendations have been accepted, one was rejected, one was superseded by a later recommendation and the final 14 recommendations submitted in March are still pending consideration by the City Commission.
Other working groups made recommendations on oversight, use of force, training and engagement.
But it will take time to implement these changes and to see an effect on the diversity of applicants, said Chrisondra Goodwine, a committee member. When the latest application numbers were reported to the working group at the end of March, Goodwine was disappointed but not surprised.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Speaking at the police academy’s graduation ceremony, Judge E. Gerald Parker Jr., the first Black male judge in the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, General Division, addressed the tense atmosphere the new officers are stepping into.
“It seems as if officers are being characterized automatically (as) threatening, untrustworthy, potentially violent and it’s unfair,” Parker said. “(That) the actions and the decisions of a few continue to castigate the whole, is something I’ve had to endure since I was a child … While none of us may have contributed to where we are today, we’re very much a part of the solution … I‘d encourage you to not pick sides, particularly as to whose lives you believe matter more … Everyone should be outraged about the killing of police officers. Everyone should be outraged about the killing of Black men and women.”