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New police hires in Glendale Police Department reflect diverse community

Force is bringing recruits on board that reflect city's ethnic makeup.

March 03, 2012|By Veronica Rocha,
  • The parents of newly sworn in police officer Daniel Lee pin on his Glendale Police Department badge at the swearing-in ceremony of four new officers at the Glendale Police Department on Thursday, March 1, 2012. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
The parents of newly sworn in police officer Daniel Lee…

When newly minted Glendale police officers Olga Varouzian, Anna Khlgatian, Patrick Takla and Daniel Lee received their badges on Thursday, they became the latest examples of the department’s efforts to better reflect the city’s ethnically diverse population.

Of the 17 recruits who were sworn in last year, 10 were listed as being of an ethnic background other than white. The most recent hires include six Armenian officers, one Latino and one Korean — representing the three largest ethnic minority groups in Glendale.

The need for officers with ethnic backgrounds that reflect the local population has become even more vital as the Police Department works from an area command and community policing model, Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.

“To be truly effective, you need to represent the community,” he said. “You need to have the language skills and the cultural awareness to effectively connect with those communities and neighborhoods.”

Officers of diverse ethnic backgrounds made up half of the Police Department’s 244-person force last year.


To recruit prospective officers, the department has used two strategies: seeking out officers with Armenian- and Korean-speaking skills and recruiting teens to join its Explorer and cadet programs, De Pompa said.

More than 50% of teens who participated in the programs spoke a second language and were of ethnic backgrounds, he said.

The programs were successful recruitment tools for police up until three years ago, when the recession forced the department to freeze its hiring, De Pompa said. As a result of the hiring freeze, enrollment numbers have dwindled.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian said the Police Department’s latest recruitment effort was a “step in the right direction.”

“I think it’s important for the Police Department to reflect the community it serves,” Manoukian said.

In the past five years, Glendale police has hired more officers with ethnic backgrounds than white officers, according to department records — 34 versus 24.

The department didn’t hire any officers in 2009 due to a citywide hiring freeze.

The following year, the department hired just one officer, who was Armenian.

Nine Armenian officers have joined the Police Department’s ranks since 2007, as have 14 Latino officers.

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