Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick told CBC News a recent initiative spearheaded by Windsor police has garnered attention from forces around the province.
"What we're looking to do is reduce barriers. We found with the segment of females that they don't want to compete with males at the physical component of the test," he said. "So we held a number of sessions last years — all females, no males, involved with the physical fitness standards testing. That worked out very well. We were the first ones in the province to do that. We're very proud of that."
"Our overarching goal is to be effective as a police force and in order to do that we are absolutely convinced we need to reflect the community we serve," said Frederick.
Their latest crop of hires may reflect Windsor better.
"We made job offers to seven cadets. One was an African-Canadian, one was of Arabic descent, two were females and three were white males," said Frederick. "More than 50 per cent. We're very happy with that. They were all awesome candidates and great recruits."
Diverse hiring a work in progress
Justine Pauze will graduate from her police foundations course in April at St. Clair College.
Her friends aren't sure about her career choice.
"They were kind of scared. 'Like why?'" she said. "Not a lot of people I know want to get into policing."
'What we're looking to do is reduce barriers.' - Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick
"A lot of people shy away from police and I think that's the big thing about it," said Pauze. "They don't know too much about it."
"We weren't that diverse back then," said Pat LeBlanc, who teaches Police Foundations at St. Clair College. He was with the Windsor Police for 33 years before starting his teaching career.
He thinks things are improving and has seen a change at the college.
"There has been an increase in the protection security investigations and police foundations," he said. "At least a 20 per cent increase and most noticeably the Middle Eastern students that have come into the program."
Police are also holding recruitment sessions in the community — at the mosque, at different community centres around the city to encourage people from diverse backgrounds who wouldn't normally look to policing as a viable profession.
Frederick said they won't be able to accurately gauge the success of their initiative until four or five years down the road as they start the process with young people who are still in school.