Local Police Departments Recruiting For Diversity

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Local police departments are focused on filling their ranks with more diversity and the push is resulting in more female officers wearing the badge in North Alabama.

The Huntsville and Madison police departments have made recruiting female and minority officers a top priority in the last several years. HPD officials say their newest academy of cadets, who are set to graduate next month,  represent the ‘most diverse group in a very long time’.

"We feel it's important that our department reflect our community," HPD Capt. JesHenry Malone said. "It's been one of our goals."

Malone said 32 cadets set to graduate as sworn officers in March include:

7 black males

17 white males

5 white females

2 black females

1 Asian female

When Malone joined The Huntsville Police Department 15 years ago, he joined a group of 360 sworn officers; 35 were black and only a few were female, he said.

"We are serious about hiring female applicants," he said. "Females bring to the table something we never could--being female."

Although female officers are nothing new, Malone said the number of females that will be on the force and out in the field is increasing.

"Female officers can even be stronger than male officers," Malone said.

Some of the active female Huntsville police officers and academy students include a deputy chief, weightlifting champions and have a background in military training, he said.

Huntsville Police Academy's graduation will be held at Lee High School on Friday, March 8 at 4 p.m.

Madison PD Capt. John Stringer says there are at least one or two female officers currently working every shift. The department has made recruiting female officers a priority

"We want our department to reflect the community we serve, sometimes having a female officer on the scene makes it a lot easier to work with victims and communicate," Stringer said.

(WHNT News 19 news partner The Huntsville Times contributed to this report)