Police seek to diversify departments with career fair in North Philadelphia

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Police officials from across the region held a Diversity Career Fair Saturday morning at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. (WPVI)

Daniel Williams and his girlfriend are looking for jobs in law enforcement, and they brought their 8-month-old son - part of their inspiration - along for the search on Saturday.

"I don't want my kids to be growing up in a bad environment. People getting shot. Someone got shot around the corner from me," said Daniel Williams. "I don't want my kid to be in that type of situation."

Everyone was welcome to the first annual Philadelphia Police Diversity Career Fair at Bright Hope Baptist Church, but minorities and women were encouraged to attend.

"She was telling me the fact that you're a minority and you're a woman opens a lot of positions for you. And I was like, you brightened up my day!" said Monica Wassef of King of Prussia. "It's something you don't hear a lot."

About 50 agencies were at the career fair, and all of them are hiring. With this being the first year, organizers weren't really sure what to expect, but they were not expecting such a large turnout.

A steady stream of applicants entered the gym, dressed to impress - despite the snow. A relief to recruitment officers who say they've had a challenging job lately.

"I think when you start recruiting and you start speaking with not only people that are ready to work right now, but you speak with the younger people as well and they get a chance to talk to you, and they find out you're just like them," said New Castle County Lt. Gerald Tatum. "You have some of the same issues."

Even with negative publicity for police in the media recently, recruiters say there have been positive stories, too.

"You have officers taking time to play hopscotch with little kids and shoot basketball and little things like that, and it helps build a better relationship between the community and the police departments," said Philadelphia Police Officer Kenneth Scott.

Job seekers were happy to see that departments across the region want to diversify.

"Absolutely it gives me a better chance. You know, it gives me a front row seat," said Chris Booker of Southwest Philadelphia.
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