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Leslie Malerich is sworn in as Griffith's second female officer

Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance hands Leslie Malerich her badge after Malerich was sworn in as Griffith's second female officer in March 2016.

The men and women who provide government services, including public safety, should be representative of the people being served.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clearly understands this concept, recently explaining, "We have a great diversity gap in the State Department. We need a State Department that reflects the American people...

"Every time we have an opening for an ambassador position, at least one of the candidates must be a minority candidate," Tillerson later added, among other pledges to increase diversity in his federal department's ranks.

In Northwest Indiana, we also should be encouraged by efforts afoot in local law enforcement to increase diversity within police department ranks.

On Saturday, Region police officers and officials participated in a panel discussion, "Behind the Badge: A Female and Minority Perspective."

It was a healthy discussion about the shortcomings and various ideas for fixing diversity within Region police ranks.

Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance, who has been progressively moving the needle on various aspects of law enforcement reform both within his department and regionally, sponsored the event together with Indiana University Northwest and Crossroads YMCA.

Mance wisely concluded that recruiting officers who represent a community's diversity begins with attracting diverse youth to a law enforcement calling.

"We need to reach the younger generations. We need to start preparing people, letting them know this is a career they want," Mance said.

In partnership with IUN and the YMCA, Mance's department developed a program that helps applicants prepare for written exams, oral interviews and physical agility tests required to enter law enforcement careers.

That program led to former Olympian Leslie Malerich being hired in 2016 as the Griffith police agency's second female officer in department history.

These are important initial steps, and we hope all Region police departments will take note.

Police departments — and all government entities — making an effort to proportionately represent community diversity help build public good will in an era in which newfound trust is sorely needed.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.