Hamilton police will hold a second recruiting event at a local mosque next week in hopes of evolving into a force that is more representative of a diverse city.
The event comes at a time when Muslim community leaders have spoken out about lack of diversity on the board that oversees the service.
"The reality is that we would like to see more diversity on the police services board, and would like to see that diversity reflected in the service itself," said Kamran Bhatti, a director of the Muslim Association of Hamilton.
Bhattti said the service has "come a long way" over the past 15 years or so in reaching out to multicultural communities.
"Despite that we still don't see many, if any, members of the sergeant rank or higher who reflect the (diverse) makeup of the city of Hamilton," Bhatti said.
Recruiters from the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, Hamilton Fire Department and Hamilton paramedics will also be at the event.
'We want to represent the population we serve'
Chief Eric Girt said the service thinks about diversity in three categories when recruiting officers: Cultural diversity, linguistic diversity and visual diversity.
"We want to represent the population we serve," he said.
A 2016 CBC analysis found that Hamilton was one of the best police forces in the country for matching the racial diversity of the community it serves.
As of July 2016, the Hamilton Police Service was 17.2 per cent diverse (ie: officers that are Aboriginal or of a visible minority) compared to the city's population, which was 17.7 per cent diverse according to 2011 Census data.
New Census numbers released last month showed Hamilton's minority population had grown proportionally to make up 18.6 per cent of the total population in the city.
'Muslim communities are part of that social fabric that drives Hamilton'
Wednesday's recruiting session follows a similar event held in March at the Ibrahim Jame Mosque, the site of a hate crime in 2016.
Bhatti said partnering with police makes sense of a number of levels for the Hamilton Muslim community.
"Hosting it at the mosque … once again shows that the Muslim communities are part of that social fabric that drives Hamilton," Bhatti said.
It's also a way to promote the relationship that the Muslim community has with police.
For some mosque members who've moved to Canada from other countries, that relationship is very different than what the "tumultuous" relationship they may have understood in their home country, he said.
Bhatti said he knows of at least two officers who are Muslim, and there are cadets hoping to become members of the service. He said the event might spark an idea for someone who is going into IT or communications of a possible career path.
"We hope to show and expose the talents that are within the Muslim community and the wider multicultural communities of Hamilton," he said. "And to show people of the Muslim community that all of the jobs in law enforcement aren't kicking down doors."
More information about the event
The event happens Wed., Nov. 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque, 1545 Stone Church Road East.
The event is open to community members who are not Muslim.