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W.Va. State Police want more minorities, women

February 19, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying a diverse police department is more effective at serving a diverse community, West Virginia State Police are stepping up their efforts to hire minorities as troopers.

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One reason there are not more minority troopers is because there is a myth among some racial groups that the state police are not interested in hiring people from their race, according to two troopers who will be doing recruiting locally.

"Our role is to completely do away with that perception," said Trooper Jeff Parrish.

"We just need to go out and tap them on the shoulder and offer them the opportunity," added Trooper Monte Williams.

Over the next two months, Parrish and Williams will be going to colleges in the Tri-State area to recruit minorities and women for the state police. During March, the two hope to set up workshops at such colleges as Shepherd College, Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., Hood College and Hagerstown Community College to explain the state police program to potential candidates.

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Parrish and Williams will also be doing general recruiting.

Unlike past recruiting efforts, where most candidates come from the central part of the state, Parrish and Williams want to recruit troopers from the Tri-State area for the Eastern Panhandle detachments.

Troopers recruited from the central part of the state often do not like the fast-paced nature of the work in the Panhandle and tend to leave the area, the recruiters said.

The recruiters believe hiring local people for the Panhandle detachments will lead to longer stays with the department.

Parrish and Williams released 1990 census figures Thursday which showed Jefferson County had about a 6.8 percent black population. But the local state police detachment did not have any black troopers in 1990.

Williams became the detachment's first black trooper in 1994.

Jose Centeno, the detachment's first Hispanic trooper, came to the detachment in 1992.

In Berkeley County, the black population was about 3.1 percent in 1990, and the detachment there had one black trooper, according to Williams and Parrish.

The Berkeley County detachment still has one black trooper but no Hispanics or women.

In Morgan County, where the black population was less than 1 percent in 1990, there are no minority troopers.

The census figures were based on residents 16 years of age and older.

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