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Cleveland's First Reponders Lack Women And Minorities

Officials with Cleveland's fire, EMS, and police departments at a recent city council meeting.
Brian Bull

More women and minorities are needed in Cleveland’s ranks of first responders. That from the city’s department of public safety, that hopes the city council will eventually enact a plan to diversify its police, fire, and EMS units.

The latest breakdown shows white males make up the majority of personnel in all three divisions.

Some differences are quite striking, such as in the city fire department. There, only five women work out of 736 personnel. And for police, one-third of the current force is black or Hispanic, with the remainder largely white.

So Assistant Director of Public Safety Barry Withers says they’ll work to establish a permanent recruitment team that’ll seek qualified candidates, to make the city’s safety units more representative of the communities they serve.

“The team would operate year round, visiting schools, churches, community centers, and other places where potential candidates would be found," he said. "I think it’s critical that if anything happens in this community there is an opportunity for us to be involved, because police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs are a part of the community.” 

The City Council was receptive to the proposal, though no public comments or immediate actions were taken. The matter will be addressed in later meetings.