City of Fayetteville, NC

02/05/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/05/2018 12:20

Public Safety Diversity Forum Attracts Over 140 from Three States

(Fayetteville, N.C.) - Over 140 participants from three states and 45 jurisdictions attended Fayetteville's first public safety diversity forum on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Fayetteville State University's Rudolph Jones Student Center. Titled 'Inclusive & Diverse Talent Acquisition for 21st Century Public Safety,' the event featured experts in the diversity recruitment field and the opportunity for Fayetteville Fire and Police staff to network with their counterparts from other agencies.

'This gives us an opportunity to understand what has worked well in other communities and what may work well for us,' Fayetteville Fire Chief Ben Major said.

'Not only are we learning from each other, but we are learning from the speakers who have come,' Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said. 'They have talked to us about the scientific elements of bias and how it affects the community, organization and recruiting and promotions.'

Major added: 'It's also about the networking and the partnering agencies, and we have human resources representatives we are learning from, as well.'

Expert speakers included Antoinette Archer from the City of Richmond and Dr. Lisa Coleman from New York University. The afternoon featured a panel discussion with Dr. Elsie Scott from Howard University, Dr. Willow Jacobson from the UNC School of Government and Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath.

Dr. Coleman discussed how the return on investment for public safety agencies increases when they are more diverse and how departments learn more from employees of a different gender, race, religion or sexual preference. Archer highlighted recruitment strategies and how unfair hiring practices can influence litigation. Dr. Jacobson discussed generational differences in the workplace.

The afternoon concluded with facilitated discussion focused on local reflections and takeaways.

Unifirst served as a major sponsor for the event. Phillip's Towing Service sponsored breakfast and Atlantic Emergency Solutions sponsored lunch. Several community partners - including the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Commission, Fayetteville State University and Methodist University - also helped make the event possible.

A future forum is planned to discuss diversity retention in public safety departments. More information on that forum will be released to the media when available.