Hamilton County Sheriff's Office looking to diversify force, lowering age requirement
Law enforcement agencies are working to increase their enrollment of minorities in their ranks.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has decided to lower the hiring age to encourage more people to join the department.
Sheriff Jim Hammond has lowered the hiring age to 18 rather than 21.
He wants to increase the number of applicants by catching more students coming right out of high school.
Hammond says recruiting a diverse deputy staff has been challenging.
He says the problem is not enough people apply because they may be afraid for various reasons.
“We will never erase that fear unless we get some numbers that say this is a good job,” said Jim Hammond. “So, we want to do that.”
Recently, he's been encouraging more School Resources Officers to take notice of students in their schools who show interest.
“We have got to identify the young people who have talent,” said Hammond. “Then, we have got to encourage them to apply. Next, we have to mentor them.”
Hamilton County students have the opportunity to join "The Explorers" an organization that allows them to learn about the sheriff's office.
Hammond says this gives candidates a leg up on getting into a career in law enforcement.
“It's no little issue to do the background checks to do the psychological exams, and get your doctors reports,” said Hammond. “That is the convenience of becoming an Explorer.”
He also says students who were in the Explorer program and became a deputy, have a more fulfilling career.
“In fact, I will give you a perfect example of one of the highest ranks in my department right now, is the deputy chief who started as an Explorer in high school,” said Hammond.
Since Hammond lowered the age requirement more high school graduates are able to start their career in the corrections division.
Now he's meeting with the NAACP and church leaders to get there help with recruiting because he's starting to see another issue.
“We do very well in our recruitment for corrections, but we are not seeing them rising through the ranks because simply in many cases, they don't want to apply,” said Hammond.
Hammond says even with lowering the age, they still have a difficult time recruiting women, Hispanics, and African Americans.