Plano police are on a mission to make sure their department mirrors the changing face of the community.
On a typical day at police headquarters, an officer can be seen standing in the lobby speaking to a Chinese-American family in their native language. She is the same community liaison who translates warnings and bulletins so Plano’s growing Asian population can remain informed.
“We are looking for more Asian officers,” Sgt. Jon Britton explained. "We’ve seen a large increase in our Asian community. That’s why we have a community liaison that is Chinese speaking."
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The department wants the make-up of their staff to at least match, if not exceed, the demographics of the population of Plano.
Current department demographics:
• White - 84 percent
• Black - 7 percent
• Hispanic - 7 percent
• Asian - 1 percent
• Native American - 1 percent
Police say they are currently in line with all community demographics other than Asian. According to Plano’s economic development web page, Asian people make up about 18 percent of Plano’s population. That’s three times the national average.
Plano police want to make sure they are serving that community correctly and acknowledge that it sometimes goes beyond communication issues. There can be cultural differences that hinder interaction, trust and communication.
“That is something that is so important with doing our job. You have to understand them and we are so diverse here in Plano that there is no way that you can know how every culture is,” Britton said. “ If you have some of these officers working for you that do understand them, then they can educate you.”
Officials said the department recruits quality officers of all races and genders, but if they can find someone who matches a need in the Asian community it is an added bonus. Recruiting officers keep an active eye open for officers who can make a difference in that community and in the department.
“I have to be able to go out to my community and to these colleges and say ‘hey we have such a diverse community here. We need you to come in. We can really utilize you,’” Ofc Morgan Helmberger said. “’You would be so great at talking to these people and helping us as a whole to better provide the best service possible.”
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