KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is hiring, but like many other departments, it's having trouble finding qualified applicants.
"If you got a giving heart, you're a high-drive person. if you want to make a change not only in your community but in society," it's the job for you, Assistant Chief Vern Coakley said. "We hire the heart and train the mind."
KDPS hopes to attract minorities, including women, to fill positions that opened up as officers retired.
"This profession is not a profession that people gravitate to, let alone people of color, and we know the historical ramifications toward that. But this is, again, a truly good profession if you do it right," Coakley said.
KDPS has heard about some perceived obstacles keeping people from applying. Because all its officers are trained to be police and firefighters, some women have been worried about carrying heavy gear for firefighting. The department says it has a setup that makes lifting easier.
It is also easing financial burdens by providing a salary during training.
"We realized several years ago that we were missing out on several good candidates because they couldn't afford to put themselves through a police academy," KDPS Lt. Danielle Guilds said. "They had jobs, they had bills, they had families. And we recognized that there are good people that would make amazing police officers so we vested ourselves to say, 'We want you to come here,' which is why we are paying for that training."