With the strain in relationships between law enforcement and communities of color increasing, the number of applications law enforcement agencies have been receiving has been on the decline.
The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) is just one of the departments experiencing a decrease in applications. However, instead of accepting this decline as their fate, KHP decided to become proactive, and make a strategic change to increase their department’s diversity and to continue to build trust.
“We want to help bridge those trust issues, and we want to get the best [employees] that we can get to help make that difference,” said Captain Thomas Spencer. “We want to be able to emulate our diversity within the state of Kansas.”
To increase its diversity, KHP is working to build relationships with and give information about department employment opportunities to communities of color. They are also working to step up their social media and advertising efforts, something they had not done much of in the past.
KHP is now accepting applications for trooper training and other employment opportunities including communications specialists, aircraft mechanics, program consultants and motor carrier inspectors. The cut-off date for the trooper applications is Dec. 1 to begin the six-month training academy in June 2021.
“If you like helping people and you like coming to a job that is never the same, that is different every day, and making a difference, not only in your community, but within the state as a whole – this would be a good job for you,” said Spencer.
Captain Jimmie Atkinson, who has worked with KHP for more than 20 years said that being an African American and knowing what it feels like to be a minority in law enforcement has really given him the ability to connect with others, also gaining their trust in law enforcement.
“I think I’m pretty sensitive and in tune to all sides of the coin,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson has worked his way up through the KHP ranks, and sees it as an opportunity open to all state troopers. Another upward possibility for KHP employees is a move to the federal level.
Spencer said there are a number of unique opportunities working for KHP versus a normal police department.
For one, KHP issues new state troopers their own car that they can take home.
“I mean the equipment is second to none. They really equip you with the latest technology out there and that’s a big plus that other people don’t have,” Spencer said. “And that car stays with you until you mile it out, and you get your new equipment.”
In addition, since KHP is a state agency, troopers have the ability to work in different counties throughout the day, making no one day the same as the next.
“There is not a day that I come to work and it’s the same as yesterday,” Atkinson said. “It’s always different and I’ve always told myself that this is the part that I love, and it really is. You’re able to make a difference with a very rewarding career.”
Apply for trooper positions or other employment opportunities at the KHP website: www.KansasHighwayPatrol.org/321/Training-Recruitment.