Diversity Needed On Des Moines Police Force

DES MOINES, Iowa — The racial and socioeconomic factors in Ferguson, Missouri make it hard to draw any parallels to Des Moines, but the situation raises questions about the make-up of a police force and the citizens they serve.

Watching the situation in Ferguson unfold from Des Moines, retired police officer Mike Gonzalez spent his 30 career working as a liaison between minority groups and the police department.

“It built that trust that they could trust the police,” said Gonzalez.

Through a Hispanic outreach program, Gonzalez and his brother Joe became fixtures among the Spanish speaking community.

“If there is an incident, through the community leaders we can tell them and keep them in the loop as to what’s going on and stop rumors,” Gonzalez told Channel 13 News.

Department leaders are proud of community policing, but they admit, the make-up of the force doesn’t parallel Des Moines’ diversity.

“Our percentage is something we’ve been aware of and have been disappointed with. We haven’t been able to recruit a more diverse group to come work here,” said Sgt. Jason Halifax, the public information officer for the Des Moines Police Department.

In Des Moines, Hispanics make up 12% of the population and African Americans make up 10% percent. The police force doesn’t quite match.

“We’re at 89% white, 3% African American, 3% percent Hispanic, and 3% percent Asian,” said Halifax.

Sergeant Halifax says there’s an effort to recruit more racial minorities by promoting law enforcement as a career in local schools and holding events in minority communities to find qualified applicants.

However, law enforcement can be a tough sell.

“Part of the challenge is the private work sector. They want to be as diverse as we do. They may be able to offer you a better salary, we’re going to put you on weekends and holidays,” Halifax told Channel 13 News.

15 comments

  • Kamandak

    More racial minorities, hmm I’m pretty sure the male/female ratio on the force isn’t reflective of Des Moines either.

  • kinder gentler heavy hand

    I think ‘2 minutes diversity’ should be a daily requirement for all Americans

    It really would not be that big of a deal to watch a daily message on your smartphone, with your camara on yourself, to assure compliance

    • givemeliberty

      Ridiculous. I’m sick of people trying to control each other. If you want to watch your stupid 2 minutes diversity every day, then go right ahead, but no free American can be forced to. The liberal mindset these days seems to be: mandate everything we like and ban anything we don’t like. Kiss my @$$

    • Right Wing Patriot

      Liberals are the most intolerant people…they are only tolerant as long as its their point of view.

  • Gilbert James

    Hiring based on diversity issues is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They should hire the most qualified candidate regardless of race and gender, but since when does common sense, fairness or equality become a factor.

  • keepitreal

    On this one, much of the blame has to go to the way certain members of the Des Moines Civil Service Commission build hiring lists. Most don’t know that Bradshaw can only select from the hiring lists provided to her. My Hispanic nephew had a very short interview and was denied placement on a recent list. Kid is sharp, has his Degree, clean background, but for whatever reason, just couldn’t make the list. DMPD is quickly running out of local Latino’s on the Department. I’m gone, Joe and Mike Gonzalez are gone, Tony Gomez will soon leave, Vince and Mike Valdez will be gone soon, Ray Gallardo has only a few years left, and Charlie Negrete is a short timer.

  • Hugo S LaVia

    “We’re at 89% white, 3% African American, 3% percent Hispanic, and 3% percent Asian,” said Halifax.

    We have a lesbian chief of police, that’s gotta count for something.

  • Sue

    I’m not a police department insider, so I don’t know of course…but. no one can scream that we don’t hire minorities if the minorities are not applying. It sounds like KeepItReal does have some inside information and minorities are being kept off of hiring lists. If that is true, Shame On Us! If it is just a matter of not that many minorities are applying….well…there isn’t much to be done about that.
    As a side note…KeepItReal mentioned Ray Gallardo only having a few years left on the force. When I worked downtown, Officer Gallardo was one of the officers that worked security for our company on his off hours escorting us to our cars as there had been some safety issues for employees working late. I had the opportunity to get to know Officer Gallardo to a degree. When he retires, however long that is, it will be a huge loss to the city of Des Moines. From my experience with him, he is a very good man.

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