Douglas County Sheriff’s Office sees most diverse recruitment class to date

The class of six is 83% minority.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office's latest recruiting class is the most diverse to date at 83% minority.
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - At the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, around 90% of sworn officers are white. It’s something leaders in the department have been trying to change.

Now, efforts to diversify the office are coming to fruition.

“If you’re going to diversify your agency, you have to be intentional about what you’re doing,” says Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson, who has been working on diversification efforts for years.

“What comes with diversity of ethnicity and gender, comes diversity of thoughts and ideas and that can only make us a better agency,” he adds.

In mid-2021, the sheriff’s office received backlash after its graduating class of new deputies were all white men. But now, a year and a half later, it’s a much different story, Hudson says.

“We have probably now, before we had one of the most diverse classes, this class we have right now is probably the most diverse class.”

Last December, the recruitment class that went to the academy had 10 people including three women, one of which is Black, and two Latino men.

This year, there are six recruits heading to the academy - three women, one Latino man, one Black man, and one white.

To make these diversity numbers grow, the sheriff’s office had to make some changes. They first hired a diversity consultant last year.

“We hired a minority consulting company to come in and look at our testing and interview process, so what they did for us was they did test prep and interview prep,” Hudson told 6 News last year.

The office has also beefed up recruitment across the state and begun better targeting minorities and women while doing community outreach.

“We will never sacrifice quality for quantity, we will never do that. We haven’t cheapened the test, we haven’t lowered the scores, what we have done is be more intentional about targeting minorities and females, going to the places where we can recruit them, doing the best we can to recruit them, showing them the good things this department has to do but also showing them the good things this profession can do.”

“It’s always been a passion of mine to protect others and serve my community,” says Cait Rohde, one of the three women in the academy class.

Rohde says it’s inspirational to see more women join the ranks, and she hopes it will further help with recruitment down the road.

“I think it’s important, you know, everybody has different backgrounds, personalities even, and perspectives and I think that’s important to continue to grow that in the department and in our community as well.”

“It’s awesome,” says Deondre Hook, a Black man in the office’s recruitment class. “I think it’s important that the agency reflects the people in the community, it helps build trust between the officers who work here and people out in the community so I think it’s great the agency cares about stuff like that.”

Hudson says he hopes this is just the beginning.

“I think what we’re going to see here in the future here if these efforts continue, that the sheriff department will soon reflect the community,” he says.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is currently accepting applications for deputies - the application will be open until the end of January. You can apply online.