Recruiting and retaining police officers who are representative of all communities is a major challenge for law enforcement agencies. St. Louis is no exception but has been working diligently to increase the diversity of its police officers to better reflect the demographics of the communities it serves. FUSE Executive Fellow Michelle Martin Bonner helped the city address this issue by developing strategies to increase the number of highly qualified diverse applicants, which resulted in a 12 and 24 percent increase in applications from diverse men and women, respectively.
Working closely with government partners to assess existing challenges in the hiring process, Michelle also researched nationwide best practices for raising awareness and building partnerships to improve hiring. She helped recruiters develop community partnerships to recruit underrepresented populations, including international residents, women, LGBTQIA, and diverse youth and adults. She also supported the creation of an applicant tracking database, and she led marketing efforts to focus on changing the image of the police department. Her work helped establish new connections between the police department and numerous community groups, which helped build trust and encourage positive interactions, resulting in a broadened applicant pool.