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Fact or fiction: Minor past criminal convictions will disqualify you from the RSD applicant pool?

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By John Gordon

Louquitda Brooks of San Bernardino watches as Corrie McCall explains the jobs openings available.
According to information obtained  during the first Cathedral of Praise Int. Ministries' Job Fair held this Wednesday in the city of Rialto a minor conviction will not disqualify a candidate from the applicant pool. Though this is the first of its kind for the church, the Human Resource and Investigation team from the sheriff's department has conducted several of it's kind throughout the Inland Empire.

Over the past three years, the recruitment team, consisting of Personnel Bureau Director, Lieutenant Shelly Kennedy-Smith, HR Investigator Roosevelt Logan, Community Service Officer Corrie McCall, and the newest addition to the team, Deputy Spencer. The team consisting of four of the most open and welcoming law enforcement officers, is completely African- American. The ethnic make up of this team is not an accident. As it is believed that African-Americans generally are hesitant to begin the initial process of law enforcement employment for a host of various reasons, it is the job of this bureau team, to offer helpful and welcoming information pertaining to all areas of employment available within the agency.

Aganda Gathright of Rancho Cucamonga a senior at Cal State of San Bernardino Francine Johnson of Moreno Valley and Arzanett Johnson of Rancho Cucamonga all listen about the opportunities with the Riverside Sheriff Department.
As the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans has not always been very favorable, these four agents feel that they are helping to bridge the gap between qualified applicants and available law enforcement positions. Lt. Kennedy-Smith shared that many African-American applicants are either afraid to approach the agency for employment, or are disqualified at the initial step of employment for very minor, and sometimes correctable reasons.

"One of the biggest misconceptions I have seen in my position, is that people believe they will be disqualified as an applicant for run-ins with the law when they were minors, or from years ago. This is absolutely not the truth", says Investigator Roosevelt. Lt. Kennedy-Smith further states that the recruitment, investigation, and hiring process is done on an "individual and situation specific basis." She says that just because there are issues in the past related to credit issues, criminal activities, etc., she feels that if given the opportunity to look at the person and their background as a whole, some of these individuals may and often do still qualify for employment. The most interesting and probably the most valuable of the information shared, is that the only absolute disqualifications for employment are felony convictions, and a criminal history of domestic violence. Most misdemeanors and all infractions are negotiable offenses. Additionally, the agency's investigative team scores and judges applicants on their current lifestyle and period of time since the occurrence of the offense in question.

Deputy Jartino Spencer reviews opportunities with the Sheriff's Department with an attendee of of COPIM
Though both Inv. Roosevelt and Lt. Kennedy-Smith agree that their tracking process is not as accurate as it could be, they can name several applicants who have gained employment at the agency via their outreach program, whom may not have applied for the positions otherwise. Both officers are extremely  proud of their program and know they are doing something positive to promote diversity within their agency.

With several job options within the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, the deputy position is just one of many. The agency is in need of clerks, cooks, and an array of other positions you would not normally think of as law enforcement positions. The position of training deputy pays a starting salary of $3800.00 per month and Lt. Kennedy-Smith warns that trainees will earn every cent of that amount, and at some point it will seem like "peanuts" because of the rigorous physical agility programs that must be completed for hiring.

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