The Clovis Police Department released a press release describing the nature of their efforts to diversify the police officers in their department. This was done in response to the Fresno County’s Grand Jury press release in which they recommended there be further diversity efforts in the Clovis Police Department.
In the Grand Jury release, it is stated that the Grand Jury was told that Clovis PD employed nearly three times as many white officers as it did officers of African, Asian or Latino-American descent. The release also stated that the percentage of white officers in the Clovis Police Department is nearly double the percentage of white residents in the Fresno metropolitan area.
There was no evidence of racism found in the Grand Jury’s year long report on the Clovis Police Department, but it is maintained that Clovis PD must expand and better publicize their diversity efforts in the recruitment of officers.
The Grand Jury’s report concluded that the Clovis Police Department “has made significant efforts to ethnically diversify the department to include African American and other sworn officers of color” but still has yet to meet expectations fully.
According to the Clovis Police Department press release, released just a little more than an hour after the Grand Jury’s, results have not met the expectations of Clovis PD, “because our expectations are high”. It was then listed that over the past two years, 23% of the police officers hired by the department have been women, 36% have been Hispanic, 9% Indian, and 5% were Asian.
It was also stated that two years prior to the Grand Jury’s investigation, the police department “self-identified the importance of recruiting and retaining officers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.” They then formed a Citizens Diversity Committee to assist the department with that goal which has helped with the hiring and recruitment efforts for around three years.
In speaking with Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming, it was evident that he wanted the public to know that Clovis PD had been ahead of this issue before any investigation was started by the Fresno County Grand Jury. “I don’t want people to miss that we established a strategic plan to make sure we had a good representation of our community within our department. We started that four years ago.”
In the past two years, there have been zero hires of African-American police officers, and currently Clovis PD employs two African-American police officers.
“We do have very high standards, we want to hire the right people so they’re not going out and using excessive force, they’re not making poor decisions. We want to hire the right people up front so we have the right people out there handling the calls for our community.”
To help with the standards that Clovis PD holds, Chief Fleming mentioned the Citizens Diversity Committee and how having that entity has helped in making intercultural connections. In fact, Fleming mentioned one specific example in which an African-American member of the committee suggested, “Hey instead of going and doing Coffee with Cops at Starbucks, how about doing something similar at the black-owned businesses?” A simple observation, a simple connection such as this is how Fleming and the police department plan to continue to develop strategies in recruiting from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Chief Fleming mentioned that he has also been on radio stations and certain television channels with which he has tried to reach out to different backgrounds. However, the goal for the police department remains similar in that they will not hire those beneath what they call, “their high standards”.
“I’m personally not out looking to fulfill any type of quota or percentages of a breakdown, I think we need to definitely represent our community of Clovis. The Grand Jury would like us to represent the greater Fresno metro area demographics. My goal is, and I think the citizens of Clovis would demand, we hire the best of the best and that’s what we’ve always done. So no matter what race, gender or ethnicity that you are, if you have good moral character, if you want to be in law enforcement, if you want to serve your community, the great community of Clovis, we will welcome you here, we want you.”
Chief Fleming praised the Grand Jury and their investigation by saying that their report reaffirmed what Clovis PD has been attempting to do for the past four years. “We welcome all people to work here…We don’t care what race, ethnicity or gender you are, we just want the best of the best here in Clovis.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s about wanting to be in law enforcement, wanting to go out and serve the community, and do the right things for the right reasons.”