Immigrants from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Balkan region is transforming Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. To adapt, reports the Los Angeles Times, Burlington’s police force has launched an aggressive diversification campaign. Community consultants who venture into the city’s ethnic enclaves to recruit potential officers.
Burlington Police Chief Tom Tremblay admits that his 95-member force mirrors the old demographics of a state that is 96.8% white – second only to Maine. Burlington has one African American police officer, a detective who joined the department in 1993. A Vietnamese woman works as a full-time consultant on domestic violence cases. Two Latino officers have been hired in the last two years.
After the department aired a 30-second television ad in March and April, 35 men and women submitted applications – an avalanche by Burlington standards. Deputy Chief Stephen Whark said the inquiries came from many parts of the country, and that many were from minorities. The ad, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, ran only in New England.
The prospective officers must meet rigorous physical requirements, and pass psychological and polygraph tests, as well as a written exam. Burlington, which requires its officers to have college degrees, offers a $32,800 starting salary.