HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — "Are we perfect? No. If we were perfect we wouldn't have lost 26 officers to improper conduct over the last couple years. But I can assure you, that we do take it seriously and we're trying."
During the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council first meeting of 2022, Captain Jonathan Ware's presentation included the process of recruitment and its nationwide challenge. He said that right now, the Huntsville Police Department is short approximately 50 officers.
Community leaders who attended the meeting had questions in mind that went far beyond the number of officers.
Citizens Coalition for Justice Reform member Chad Chavez pointed to past high-profile cases and asked, "Has the headlines changed HPD's process whether in hiring and retaining new officers? We have these bad headlines and I really hope the leadership is taking some lessons from that, so that we could really make things better moving forward."
HPCAC recently expanded the board to more members for a total of 13.
They are appointed by all city council members and the mayor. In the past, board members were only appointed by the police chief, mayor, and city council members.
Chaves says, "I think that it will give us a lot of opportunity to speak to people, make sure that our voices are being heard because there's a lot of people on there who care about what this police force looks like."
District 4 Councilman Bill Kling added, "I like the idea of doing it this way because with the district that I represent, it's very diverse. I have one individual who resides east of the parkway, and another on the committee who resides west of the parkway."
And as Huntsville continues to grow, he says it's going to be very important as the city's demographics continue change, people see that the city is making an effort to make sure the police force reflects the community.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 8 in District 2. The exact location will be published on the city's website.
The HPCAC will host more public forums on new topics throughout the year in different locations to ensure everyone has an opportunity to attend. For more information about HPCAC visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/hpcac and the HPCAC Facebook page.