DECATUR, Ala. - As Black History Month begins, groups and organizations nationwide host black cultural celebrations.
The Decatur Police Department's chief said they're using this month to encourage diversity and inclusion within the department and community.
"It's very important for a police department to be diverse," said Chief Nate Allen. "In order to serve the many people that we serve, we want people to look like people of the communities they serve."
Historically, that has not always been the case.
"Traditionally, the history of policing, it was traditionally white males," said Allen.
Allen said being a black male in uniform has had its challenges.
"Just being a police officer, in general, brings challenges. I think being a black police officer brings even more challenges," explained Allen. "Often times black officers are not accepted well in the black community just because they wear the badge. An officer may not be accepted well in the white community just because of the color of their skin."
He places extreme importance on well-rounded representation in all fields.
"We need to recruit minority officers in every field, not just in police. You're looking at recruiting minorities in police departments, fire departments and city governments as a whole," said Allen.
The chief said he wants to encourage open-mindedness this month and every month moving forward.
"My overall goal is inclusiveness with an open line of communication with all races, we must be able to talk to one another, and share and exchange cultures," explained Allen. "That's the biggest problem I think we have right now, we don't have an open line of communication. We're afraid to talk to each other about differences."
Allen said that needs to change so that we can properly foster growth.