GOLDEN, Colo. — The Colorado State Patrol wants to recruit more women and minorities, which is especially challenging in a tight job market.
“We want to be the best employer in Colorado. Not the best government agency or law enforcement agency. We want to be the best employer in Colorado. We want really good people to work here, because that’s what it takes,” said CSP Chief Colonel Matthew Packard.
Packard has been with CSP for 19 years. He said the opportunities are endless.
“I’ve spent time in rural Colorado, I’ve spent time reconstructing car crashes, monitoring hazardous material movement, human trafficking. It’s not just about writing tickets. As a member of this organization, there is almost nothing you can’t do. You have the ability — literally every single day — you have the opportunity to save somebody’s life. What a humbling responsibility and ability,” Packard said.
But he said the job is not for everyone. They are actively recruiting people to join their force. With a Department of Justice grant, they commissioned a study to look at their hiring practices. It was conducted by the Rand Corporation.
“What we heard back is a lot of our efforts are working, but we have room to grow,” Packard said. “I don’t want to recruit someone just because they want to be a cop. I want to recruit somebody who wants to make a difference.”
The study found that since 2014, CSP has had an increase of 10 percent increase in racial/ethnic minority applicants, with a 175-percent increase in hiring minorities. They saw and average increase of 3 percent in female applicants and appointees.
For example, of their 800 troopers, 79 percent are white men.
“Seven percent of our sworn members are women. That’s just not enough. We are missing that perspective. Not just on the side of the road but as we grow the organization, we need that perspective. If we are just talking to white men, then we are doing it wrong. We are missing the opportunity to make our state safer,” Packard said.
He said it goes beyond recruiting fairs. He wants his troopers to be engaging people in the communities where they live and work.
“When we stop to have lunch in the middle of a shift, our heads are up and we are talking to people. One of the neatest things about wearing a uniform is watching a kid walk by and wrench his neck around and see all the cool stuff we wear. Not just letting that kid walk by, to stop and engage in a conversation,” Packard said.
And while statistics paint part of the picture, he said, “I don’t ever want to get to the point where we say, ‘We want 6 percent this.’ I don’t want to say that. What I want is 100 percent good.”