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Wilmington officials pleased with diversity progress in Public Safety workforce

Wilmington city officials report more diversity in its Public Safety workforce.

The Wilmington Fire Department reports its next fire academy will be among the most diverse in the city’s history.

When the 42nd Wilmington Fire Department Academy opens next month both Mayor Mike Purzycki and Fire Chief John Looney say it will feature a diverse group of recruits including eight Black males, one Black female, and two Hispanic males.

That’s 58% minority participation class of the 19 recruits that was selected from a total of 226 candidates.

"All we can do is just continue to improve and do the best we can to get that diversified workforce. I think we're on the right path. Are there improvements? Yeah, absolutely there's improvements, and we will be meeting and we'll iron that out and talk that out. What works, what didn't work, and where we want to go," said Looney.

The recruits have a conditional offer of employment contingent on completing the academy along with passing a complete medical exam and a criminal background check.

Looney says a recruitment committee formed in the past two years helped land the recruits.

"We talked over strategies and tactics on how to get the word out. Yes, we went to community fairs, community events throughout the city. We reached out to all of our city councilmen and women to help spread the word. Any help that we could get. We did a lot on social media. Social media in our recruitment was a big, big tool recruiting individuals," said Looney.

Purzycki also lauds the Wilmington Police Department’s efforts in diversifying its force. Its last academy that graduated in August had more than 75% of the members composed of minority recruits.

When adding white female recruits – who represent a minority in policing – the diversity percentage is around 85%.

Purzycki adds that if anyone doubts the city’s commitment, they should review these numbers, and he would invite them to join the city’s recruitment efforts.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.