We still have a long way to go if police departments across the country are still just beginning to swear in their first African-American officers. In Superior, Wis., that is just what was celebrated Thursday as, for the first time in the 133-year history of the city’s Police Department, an African-American recruit was hired the join the force.
We’re damn near halfway through the year of our Lord 2017, and this is still an “accomplishment” to be checked off.
But let me not take away from new Officer Ronald Robinson’s shine. According to WDIO, Robinson was not even really aware of his trailblazing path until the news station brought it to his attention.
“I was not aware of that, actually, so that is awesome,” he said.
Superior Police Chief Nick Alexander acknowledged that expanding the diversity on the force has been the cause of much discussion since he was named chief. That led to an increased outreach to the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and, in particular, its black student union, which has increased the number of candidates.
“Ultimately that leads us to today, where we do welcome our first African-American officer on the Police Department,” the chief said.
“Since day one, I talked about it during my application process,” Alexander told the Superior Telegram. “[It] really was something I thought would happen sooner. Part of me is disappointed it’s taken this long to come to the opportunity. It wasn’t without effort.”
The Telegram notes that Alexander has acknowledged a lot of work goes into recruiting, in addition to the fact that the area is majority-white. But for the chief and members of the Police & Fire Commission, diversity is a key issue, the Telegram reports.
“When I was hired as chief, I was naive,” Alexander said. “I thought it would be easy to get diverse applicants.
“I believe ultimately in building relationships with diverse groups,” he said. “Hey, we’re people just like everybody else; we’re fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and parents, and yeah, we do go to work and wear a uniform, but don’t let that be the sole way of defining us.”
Alexander pinned Robinson’s new badge to his chest at Thursday’s ceremony and said that like many others, Robinson has all the characteristics of a good cop.
“Ron possesses all of the same qualities that we wanted here. He’s honest. He’s respectful. He’s calm. He’s intelligent,” he told WDIO.
According to the report, Robinson already has a background in law enforcement, as a member of the 148 Fighter Wing in neighboring Duluth, Minn. As for Robinson, he quips, “Just got to focus and get the job done.”
Robinson, along with the three other recruits who were sworn in that day, still have some training to do before they begin to patrol, WDIO notes. That training begins next week.