The Riley County Police Department lacks diversity in some of its highest ranking positions.
According to information provided by RCPD spokesperson Hali Rowland, 40 RCPD patrol employees currently hold leadership titles of corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, assistant director and director. Of those 40 employees, all of them are white, 38 are white males. The two white females on the patrol include one corporal and one captain. It’s something the department acknowledges and hopes to address.
“We are trying to update our recruiting plan and have those cracked and measured where we can find a diverse pool of applicants and more actively recruit them to RCPD, so that we can begin integrating more minorities into our agency,” Rowland said.
In terms of hiring, recruitment is a challenge for RCPD as it is in many police departments. RCPD Director Dennis Butler says he noticed the lack of diversity as soon as he was hired and continues to advocate for it. In a statement to KMAN, Butler called on community members, if they believe in RCPD to advocate for the department.
“I want diversity, we need diversity, we welcome diversity, and I believe to my core that diversity will make us an even better department,” he said.
Butler says U.S. law enforcement has 10’s of thousands of unfilled positions and says police departments as a whole don’t get nearly the same number of applications they used to regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.
“When incidents like the tragedy in Minneapolis occur it make the recruiting and hiring mountain taller and steeper,” Butler said.
Not only do police departments nationwide face a lower number of applicants, but also see a high turnover rate, due to a number of contributing factors.
Rowland says because the department lacks said diversity at the top, the department relies on feedback they get from the community to ensure there that trust does not get broken.
“We try to go out into the community and we rely heavily on community policing where we’re out there and talking to people in the community and getting their feedback and trying to learn what they need from us so we can serve them better,” she said.
According to 2019 data from RCPD’s Human Resources division, 164 individuals applied for jobs last year, including 61 minorities — 19 of which were African American. RCPD hired 24 individuals department wide in 2019, with four minorities hired and two applicants who did not disclose their race. None of those minorities hired were African American.
Despite this, Rowland says RCPD has a more diversity at other levels.
“If you look throughout all of RCPD, it is very diverse. Unfortunately our patrol division does not reflect that. but like I said, we are taking steps to ensure that changes in future years,” she said.
The department recently began cooperating with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation after it became aware of a 27-year-old Manhattan man who claimed he was battered by an RCPD officer.
RCPD also helped lead a peaceful protest of police brutality through Manhattan Tuesday.