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Head of Va. State Police ‘excited’ about diversity, equity and inclusion

While the Virginia State Police has undergone many changes through the years, one of the most significant changes has been the broadening of its recruitment eff...

It was late January when more than 30 new troopers joined the Virginia State Police, graduating and officially becoming members of the department.

They were presented their diplomas after going through more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects.

“The class president was born in Egypt and immigrated to the U.S. as a child,” said Col. Gary Settle, the Virginia State Police superintendent. “We had another graduate who was from the Dominican Republic.”

Other members of the class came from all corners of Virginia as well as Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York.

It was a reflection of the department’s sustained emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“That priority has gained more traction in recent years, justifiably getting the attention that it needs,” Settle said. “We’ve come a long ways toward diversifying our ranks, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are key principles that play a crucial role in ensuring that organizations, including the Virginia State Police, function effectively and serve the needs of their communities.

It helps to create an inclusive environment that respects and values all individuals, regardless of their background, culture, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or other differences.

“It gets us thinking in different arenas and puts us outside of our comfort zones,” Settle said. “We continue to be excited with the progress we’ve made over the decades, and more specifically, just within the last few years.”

The benefits of diversity

The implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion practices within the Virginia State Police helps to enhance the organization’s reputation and credibility.

Diversity brings a range of perspectives and experiences to the workplace, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions to complicated problems.

Equity and inclusion, on the other hand, ensure that everyone is treated fairly and has equal access to opportunities and resources, which helps to eliminate bias and discrimination while promoting a culture of respect.

The Virginia State Police is responsible for serving and protecting all the citizens of Virginia, and it is important for its members to reflect the diversity of the communities in which they work.

“Our troopers come into contact with people from all over the country and the world when they’re patrolling along highways in Virginia,” said Settle. “Understanding and effectively communicating with individuals who have different cultures and life experiences is essential because it is an everyday occurrence.”

A workplace that values diversity, equity and inclusion creates a sense of belonging and provides a safe and supportive environment for all employees.

It fosters teamwork and collaboration, which are crucial in achieving the goals and mission of the Virginia State Police.

When everyone is valued and included, they are more likely to work together and support each other, resulting in a more efficient and effective team with higher morale.

“The Virginia State Police continues to work hard to reflect the people we serve and protect all across the entire state,” said Settle. “We do that by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment of opportunity within our ranks, attracting people from all walks of life.”

Widening the search

While the Virginia State Police has undergone many changes through the years, one of the most significant changes has been the broadening of its recruitment efforts and the implementation of new strategies aimed at attracting a more diverse group of applicants.

In the past, the department primarily relied on traditional methods of recruitment such as advertising in local newspapers and career fairs.

However, those methods often resulted in a limited pool of applicants.

“We have taken substantial steps to improve and reinforce our recruitment, marketing and outreach,” said Settle. “We have full-time recruiters in all seven of our divisions now, which we’re extraordinarily happy about.”

The department increased its presence in minority communities, forming new relationships with local leaders and organizations.

That provided more opportunities for groups that have historically been underrepresented in police agencies.

In addition to utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the Virginia State Police launched a website that is “totally dedicated to recruiting troopers,” according to Settle.

It’s all part of the ongoing effort to reach a wider and more diverse group of people, including younger individuals who may not have even considered a career in law enforcement in the past.

“The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion continues to provide opportunities for innovation and thinking outside of the box,” said Settle. “It is very exciting, and it’s a constant journey.”

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