City of Erie Addresses Lack of Diversity among First Responders
Diversity is an important factor in all communities, but the City of Erie's police and fire department are lacking diversity.
In June, Mayor Joe Schember hosted a diversity council conference, saying he wants every individual in this city regardless of their race, religion, ethnic heritage or the color of their skin to be welcomed and valued because of the unique gifts and talents that each and every one of us bring. However, the fire department just hired 8 new white males.
"One of the biggest challenges is the testing process," said Schember. "They have to pass a physical and written test and then being hired is based on your test score. If you have a military background, then you get 10 points added to your score. That has made it very difficult to get minorities in."
While the City said diversity is something that won’t happen overnight, it is trying hard to recruit people to take the police and fire test who are minorities and also veterans. The fire test is conducted once every two years, and the police test is held once per year.
"We are working hard on it," said Schember. "We are a little frustrated we can’t move faster than we have, but I can tell you we are committed to doing it."
One way the City is trying to address the lack of diversity and encourage more people to take these tests is by hosting more public events and having more interaction between first responders and the community.