SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island State Police on Tuesday released the findings of a 154-page report that focused on increasing diversity in the agency’s recruitment and promotional process.
State Police Col. Ann Assumpico said the agency is taking a more welcoming approach in an attempt to get people to apply for the state police academy, including spelling out what potential recruits can expect in terms of testing and physical training, and even posting videos on how to perform a proper sit-up.
“A lot of men and women, they are just not ready for the academy,” Assumpico said at a news conference. “You want to make sure you get the right individuals.”
Assumpico said that of the 1,403 applicants to the 2018 state police academy, 44% were women or minorities. Laura Meade Kirk, a spokesperson for the state police, said that is an increase of 9% versus 2014.
The academy is set for July, and the state budgeted enough money for 30 new troopers. The state police currently have about 230 sworn personnel, a number Assumpico said she would like to see be at 300.
Among the recommendations from the report that Assumpico said are already being used: establishing a mentorship program for all applicants and candidates, the idea being that those seeking the job can reach out to an active member of the state police for guidance throughout the process.
The assessment was performed by Chicago-based law enforcement consultant Terrance Gainer. As Target 12 first reported, the $225,000 examination was originally going to be paid with money the state police received for their work in investigating Google. But the U.S. Department of Justice froze the agency’s ability to use the funds, so Assumpico paid for Gainer directly from the state police budget.
The assessment also examined the state police promotion process, finding that some parts lack transparency and it relies “heavily on a subjective rating system.”
As part of the assessment, the team conducted an anonymous survey. Of the roughly 230 sworn personnel, only 97 took part in the survey.
Asked if the promotional process was “fair and transparent,” 9% said “always,” 55% said “sometimes,” 17% said “rarely” and 19% said “never.” Nine troopers declined to answer the question.
The majority of those who took the survey also felt the agency does enough to recruit a diverse class: 81% were “very satisfied” or “satisfied,” while 20% were “somewhat satisfied” or “not satisfied.”
In all, the report lays out 27 recommendations, the first being: “Make a business case for stable state funding that supports annual Training Academy classes and a full-time recruiting department; include calculations of current and future personnel needs and assessments of RISP resources and recruiting needs.”
The assessment also reviewed the physical testing requirements. Assumpico said the agency decided to eliminate the “vertical jump” portion of the test because it was too difficult for female candidates.
“More than half of the 42 female candidates remaining after the written exam were disqualified by the fitness testing with the vertical leap proving to be the most difficult,” the report found.