Home Mesa Places Richardson: Is Mesa PD using gender, ethnicity quotas in hiring new officers?

Richardson: Is Mesa PD using gender, ethnicity quotas in hiring new officers?

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Bill Richardson

Please tell me it’s not true, the Mesa Police Department is using gender and ethnicity quotas in hiring police officers?

According to a Jan. 9 Arizona Republic story, Phoenix-area police recruiters work to diversify, replenish forces, stay ahead of retirements, and the Mesa PD wants 40 percent of its new officers to be “female and minority candidates.”

Mesa Sgt. Brian Jutting told the Republic, “Mesa has a vested interest in attracting as many female and minority candidates as possible and aims to have at least 40 percent of its academy class represent those groups.”

That sure sounds like a quota system to me. Has political correctness run amok in Mesa? One need only look at Tempe and Phoenix to see what happens when political correctness becomes a driving force in policing, high crime, high costs, poor performance and unsafe neighborhoods.

And of all places, Mesa isn’t perfect but the current model of only hiring best candidates gave Mesa Ramon Mendoza, one of the very first Mexican-American police chiefs of a major city in Arizona and the United States; Chief Jan Strauss, one of the first women to lead a major department in Arizona; Chief George Gascon, a Cuban-American who took Mesa to new heights; and just retired Chief John Meza, a Mexican-American whose leadership and vision made Mesa PD an agency others wanted to be like. And while it’s not the police department, Mesa’s new fire chief is a woman with a record of success and accomplishments during her decades long career in Mesa.

Mesa PD’s record of community engagement and first class crime fighting is an envied model that is part of Mesa’s foundation and has helped put Mesa on the path to success as one of the nation’s best-run and safest cities.

So why tinker with success?

Look at some of the major cities around the nation that have gone down the path of quotas. It’s not pretty. Once quotas are set and can’t be met, lowering standards and giving undeserved preferences become the means to an end. Then everyone suffers.

Sure, policing would be all warm and fuzzy if law enforcement mirrored the community, but that’s not going to happen. It’s been talked about for at least 40 years and they’re still talking about it as a cure all for many ills that impact society.

What needs to be talked about is how to find the most qualified police officer candidates who want to be cops. People who care, are passionate, can empathize and who are willing to do the dirty and dangerous work police officers do.

That’s how it’s been done in Mesa for as long as I can remember, and it’s worked. So why change it?

– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.

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