KCK Police officers gather for roll call.
Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Mark Holland says there is a disconnect between his citizens and their police and fire departments.
Holland announced Thursday he’s starting a task force to correct the diversity problems within both agencies.
“I want a community task force, who are folks working toward that direction of making sure there is not a disconnect in our community,” Holland told KMBC News.
According to statistics from the City, 40% of KCK resident are white; 28% are Hispanic and 27% are Black.
7% of the population ae made of other races.
But neither the Fire or the Police ranks reflect that make-up.
12% of KCK’s police officers are Black; 11% are Hispanic.
7% of the firefighters are Black; 6% Hispanic.
Both agencies are dominated by males (Police: 88%; Fire 95%).
Holland says the disparity was illustrated for him last November at a Fire Recruitment graduation ceremony. Of the 42 graduates, none was African American and only one was a woman.
In January during a speech observing Martin Luther king’s birthday, Holland promised to tackle the issue. He got assistance from the US Attorney Barry Grissom and the Department of Justice.
Holland says the task force needs to figure out how to solve the disconnect between local residents and public safety jobs.
Holland says KCK firefighters start at around $50,000 a year.
“Our citizens should be clamoring for these jobs,” the Mayor said, “These are great careers”
Commissioner Ann Brandau-Murgia says some residents may not have to pass the entrance tests.
She does not think some have the adequate the academic skills.
Holland wants an expanded Diversity Task Force to report back with suggestions in April 2015.