Working to be the face of the people they serve. The Paducah Police Department is trying to diversify its force. It swore in five new police officers this week – two of them minorities.
Right now Paducah Police have 78 officers. Four of them are African American, two of which are new hires. Six officers are women, one them being African American, and white males make up the rest of the force. Chief Barnhill said the only Latino officers on the force recently retired.
While these numbers may not exactly reflect Paducah's demographics Chief Barnhill said it takes more than one recruiting class to diversify a department.
Kerry Naquin is one of five new recruits for Paducah Police. He's one of four representing the black community.
“They've definitely welcomed me, I don't feel any different than any person here,” Naquin said.
Chief Barnhill said they put together a minority recruitment plan in 2012
“We need to be a mirrored image of what our community looks like and we haven't been for quite some time. We know that. We are open about that, and we are trying to tackle that issue head on,” Naquin said.
He said it takes time to create a diverse department. There are not many minority applicants to begin with, and a lot of applicants choose to go to bigger departments.
“Not everybody wants to come to Paducah, not everybody is right for Paducah, and the way that we police,” Barnhill said.
Naquin, recently out of the military, said he joined Paducah Police specifically because of its recruiters.
“A lot of officers I guess go to the metro area because it's bigger, but I rather learn and have the experience more hands on in a smaller department. Instead of being just a number," Naquin said.
Naquin is one of four African Americans that applied.
Chief Barnhill said they're open to the community, suggesting recruits in order to keep building a more diverse department. He said one of the main ways to create a good police force is building relationships with community members.
The new recruits will be leaving to police academy for training on Sunday.
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Paducah, KY 42003