Recruiters for the New Jersey State Police returned to churches in some of the most crime-plagued cities this weekend with a renewed sense of urgency to attract more black candidates to the force, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The state faced sharp criticism in August when only five black recruits were invited to train among a class of 123. With the academy's January graduation nearing, only two black candidates remain among 85.
“We are really making a renewed and concerted effort to reach not just the black community but all of the communities,” spokesman Maj. Gerald Lewis said at a recruiting event at New Hope Memorial Baptist Church in Elizabeth. “We're going to build on the partnerships we have, strengthen them and work together to fix this problem.” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which settled discrimination claims with the State Police in 2000 to force greater minority recruitment, has threatened to sue the state for not making good on the pact. Having only two black candidates remaining in the current class is “disappointing and disturbing,” said Bishop Jethro James of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark.