This week, two Minneapolis police officers will staff a booth at a career fair on the campus of Alabama A&M, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in Huntsville, Alabama.
“We’re putting boots on the ground to do something new,” said Officer Krystal Scott, a seven-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department. “With a physical presence, we can connect. I can tell them about the good opportunities and mentorship that we have in Minnesota that they may not have.”
Officer Scott will travel south with Sgt. Keia Boyd, who has worn the MPD badge for 17 years and oversees hiring and recruiting for the force. Sgt. Boyd is particularly focused on bringing in more women and people of color.
Sgt. Boyd thinks the time is right to reach out to attendees at Alabama A&M, as students are contemplating their post-graduation options. “It’s about empowering those young students,” Sgt Boyd said. “We can show them that, whatever your major is you can apply it; you don’t have to have a law enforcement degree. You can utilize what you learned in college and your life skills in our department. Our door is open.”
Alabama A&M is a land grant university founded in 1875 with a student body of 6000. It is the alma mater of such notable graduates as civil rights leader Joseph Lowery, singer and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, and former Wisconsin Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes.
Officer Scott and Sgt. Boyd visited the southern university on the recommendation of Jayla Hall, an Alabama A&M senior studying law enforcement, who had interned with the MPD this summer. Hall was the MPD’s first HBCU intern.
“We were blessed to have her as an intern. Jayla has advice on how the MPD can move forward from a younger perspective,” said Sgt. Boyd. “She’s letting students know we will be there and will be with us at our table helping recruit. We have to be open to listening to our youth. They have innovative ideas and that’s who will someday take our place.”
Hall’s internship is a result of just one of the many improvements that the MPD has employed following the murder of George Floyd. The department launched internal efforts and added initiatives outlined in a U.S. Department of Justice overhaul plan and an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The recruiting trip marks an effort by the department to bring greater diversity to the force. The understaffed MPD is looking to hire employees in many capacities: recent high school graduates or GED holders work in civilian community service positions; trainees and sworn officers and licensed police officers from other jurisdictions who would be interested in working in Minneapolis.
“I really advocate for more women on the force. I know from my experience that we are better communicators, more nurturing,” said Sgt. Boyd. “Some situations are heated but when we show up we take the time to listen. When I was a little girl, it took me a long time to see a female in uniform. I want to change that.”
The visit to Alabama A&M may create recruiting trips to other college visits. The MPD officers might just connect with hometown young adults to remind them of opportunities in Minneapolis—hundreds of Minnesota high school graduates attend HBCUs.
“We plant seeds. This is more than a numbers game,” said Officer Scott. “We are positive individuals, and we believe in our department. We have a faith that what we do now, what connections we make, will benefit our department.”
For more information about applying for a position with the Minneapolis Police Department, go to: www.minneapolismn.gov/government/jobs/police-jobs