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Multi-department job fair looks to fill public safety openings

SOUTH BEND -- The push for more qualified candidates for public safety jobs in South Bend continues.

City officials say more than 100 diverse prospects stopped in at a job fair held Thursday evening.

And now they hope it could be the answer to the city’s problem with attracting women and minorities to these jobs.

“Just being around the area, you see things you don’t like and if there’s an opportunity to be a part of something you can change or make a difference I think that’s a good opportunity,” said South Bend resident Jada Harper.

After growing up in the city, Harper now wants to join the folks who keep communities like her’s safe.

“What can I do? How can I become a part of something bigger?” said Harper.

Her story is similar to the many men and women who came out Thursday night to the first multi-department public safety job fair for the county.

“It’s hard to go online and fill out applications and talk to everybody so having this, I get to talk to everybody at one time,” said Mishawaka native David Whitaker.

South Bend’s police department is hoping convenience will help with recruiting woes.

“It’s no secret that the police department is having trouble recruiting, that’s the bad news,” said South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruzskowski.

Chief Ruzskowski said the department is having a tough time getting hitting its goal of 247 sworn officers.

Both police and fire departments in the city also expressed a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Thursday, after seeing a diverse pool of prospects, officials believe the city could be closer to creating more diverse departments.

“The chief constantly says the community is our community family, that’s how we view it, so we want our family to be just like our community,” said Ken Garcia, of the South Bend Police Department.

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