Phoenix-area police agencies step up efforts to hire more minority officers

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Their job is to serve and protect, but growing tensions between law enforcement and the community has prompted police agencies across the Valley to find ways to ease the public's concerns.

On Monday, the Phoenix Police Department, Arizona's Department of Public Safety and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office teamed up with NAU at a news conference in North Phoenix, to talk about ways to improve their images and increase diversity in who they hire.

[RAW VIDEO: Valley police agencies step up efforts to hire more minority officers]

"Every contact they have with a member of the community creates an impression and no one wants to join a profession when they have a bad impression of the people that work in that area," said MCSO assistant chief Matt Giordano.

DPS currently has 325 job openings.

Phoenix PD has 369 job openings.

MCSO has 375 job openings.

Each agency is hoping to fill many of those positions with Hispanic, Black or Native American applicants.

Lydia Guzman, with Chicanos Por La Causa, has been a vocal critic of local law enforcement for years, but is encouraged to hear agencies reaching out to the community they serve.

"When you have a police officer from a community, to serve the community they are from, there is an understanding of what community is like," said Guzman. "What it is like to grow up there, as well as what cultural issues are in that community."

Law enforcement agencies have set up program in high schools across the Valley to reach out to young people thinking of a career in policing.

The Phoenix Police Department will hold a job fair at the Phoenix Convention Center on Friday Oct. 20, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Northern Arizona University will hold a law enforcement career fair on Saturday Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at their North Valley campus located at 15451 N. 28th Avenue.

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