SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) – Seeking to replenish the ranks of the Rhode Island State Police with a diverse pool of candidates, the head of the agency on Wednesday announced a recruitment campaign for an academy class to start in June 2018.
Col. Ann Assumpico said she hopes to get “40 to 50” recruits into the training academy, adding, “That’s what our academy can hold.”
“My top priority since being appointed superintendent of state police has been to hire and promote a gender and racially diverse mix of men and women reflecting the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of our communities,” Assumpico said.
In an effort to retain recruits that are accepted into the academy, she said the state police will be employing a mentorship program to pair recruits with current members of the force to better prepare them for the intense 24-week academy.
“Each candidate and alternate will be teamed with a mentor who will work with them as a group and individually to prepare them mentally and physically for recruitment process and training academy,” Assumpico said. “My goal is to have a larger pool of qualified men and members of minority groups when the class of 2018 begins next June.”
There are currently 228 sworn members of the state police, down from 265 four years ago. State police spokesperson Laura Meade Kirk said there are 25 troopers eligible to retire this year from the class of 1994, and 30 troopers from the class of 1997 can retire next year.
Of the 228 current members, 21 are women, 17 are black and 10 are Hispanic, according to data provided by the state police.
Wednesday’s announcement was made outside the state police’s Scituate headquarters. In the audience was the president of the Rhode Island chapter of the NAACP, Jim Vincent, who said there has been a reluctance in the minority community to apply in the past.
“The challenge isn’t if there are qualified people – there are qualified people of color in the community,” Vincent said. “We just have to reach out to them and let them know it’s OK to apply to the state police.”
He said he would like to see a class that is “reflective of the population … it has to be pretty much 25 percent of the class.”
Assumpico said they would also be holding orientation sessions throughout the state to “provide specific information applicants need to physically, mentally and emotionally prepare for the recruitment process.”
In February, the state police announced the hiring of law enforcement expert Terrence Gainer to study the agency’s recruitment and hiring practices with an eye toward diversity. As Target 12 reported, the state police tapped into its share of the so-called Google money to pay for the $225,000 contract, which was awarded without going through the state’s bidding process. (In 2012, the agency received $45 million as part of settlement with the tech giant for assisting in a federal investigation.)
The U.S. Department of Justice then placed a freeze on the agency’s ability to use Google money while the federal government conducted a compliance review.
Assumpico said Gainer’s report isn’t complete yet, but they did use elements of his assessment to craft the plan for the next recruitment class.
Assumpico – who oversaw the previous state police academies under then-Col. Steven O’Donnell – said Gainer’s full report will be out “soon” and she will make it public.
Applicants to the state police must be between the ages of 18 and 35 when the training academy starts, and have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent. They must not have been convicted of a felony and can’t “have any tattoos or other body art which is visible while in Division uniform,” according to the application page on the state police website.
Recruits accepted into the academy will be paid $1,300 every two weeks. A trooper’s starting base salary is $60,697, which then increases incrementally over four years, topping out at just over $74,000. Higher-ranking members make more.
Troopers work a minimum of 42 hours a week on a three-day on, three-day off schedule, but are also asked to work details and sometimes forced overtime if there are staffing shortages.
Kirk said the academy will cost around $1.5 million.