By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The Northborough Diversity and Inclusion Committee met on Feb. 4. The Committee is charged with making recommendations for community improvements in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. The recommendations will be presented at a spring Board of Selectmen meeting. A public survey to engage the public is in the process of being created. Police Chief William Lyver discussed recruitment challenges within his department.
Police Department discusses recruitment
The Department requires diversity training and has up-to-date and stringent policies and best practices in place. Lyver said that his department is young and they have grown up with more of a perspective of inclusion. They are more receptive to the whole topic and training.
He said that the police officer candidate pool has shrunk over the years and new ways to expand that pool need to be investigated. Lyver recognizes the challenges of filling roles and the need to have diversity represented on the police force.
“It’s an industry wide problem for police,” he said. “Police need to put their recruiting information out in a way that lets people know at a younger age what the requirements are. We try to hire the best of the best; this is a public trust position.”
Drug use and arrest records also disqualify candidates. Youth interested in law enforcement should be aware of how actions can affect them later on and the importance of personal accountability.
Bringing back an Explorers Program is another avenue to expose kids to the police profession.
The physical ability test is often something candidates often don’t understand. Lyver said that bringing more awareness to this requirement could encourage better fitness preparation among candidates to pass the test.
Societal changes need to be taken into consideration, and policies reviewed. For example, the Department has a 1980 policy that prohibits visible tattoos while in uniform.
Assistant Town Administrator Becca Meekins said that the town needs to get past automatically eliminating an entire group of people because of a tattoo. Tattoos are often part of certain cultures and are more accepted in society today than in the past.
Lyver believes in transparency and plans to update the Department’s website to include policies, reports, crime statistics and additional information the community would like to access.
A community survey will be finalized to give the Northborough population the opportunity to share feedback and ideas. This data will capture different perspectives and will aid the Committee with their final recommendations to the town.
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