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Doyle Discusses Diversity

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By Bruce Bean

New Sheriff Bob Doyle has been a member of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for almost 30 years. One of his first initiatives as Sheriff is to hire more minorities.

Doyle sat down with a Black Voice News reporter to discuss his department and how he plans to reach his hiring goals.

Black Voice News: Let’s talk about you first.
Sheriff Bob Doyle: Well I grew up here in Riverside County. My mother and my father are blue-collar workers.

My dad had worked on the pipeline and I got real sick when I was about five. We happened to be in Moline, Illinois at the time, that was very harsh weather, and the doctor told my parents that if they didn’t get me to a warmer climate I probably wouldn’t survive.

So, with that my dad quit his job and packed up and we came to California. Originally, we were in route to the Riverside area, we spent the night in Indio, and we ended up staying there. I grew up in Indio and graduated from Indio High School.

I played sports there, football and track mostly and developed a relationship with the rival city – which was Coachella, in those days. One night after a football game the coach came in the locker room, his name was Jerry Usher, and congratulated me and I got to know him and he kind of got me interested in law enforcement.

I went on to the local community college there and got an AA degree in Administrational Justice and one in Physical Education. I hadn’t seen this gentleman in a while and had gotten married at the tender age of 19 and I saw him again.

At that time I was on the physical education track. I was talking to Jerry, he was a reserve at Indio Police Department, and he talked me into becoming a reserve just to see if it was something I wanted to do. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being outside.

I enjoyed the fact that every day was kind of a different day, nothing was routine. So, my wife got pregnant and we had our first son and back in those days, the Indio Police Department wasn’t hiring, but the sheriff’s department was.

So, my wife and I go back east to visit my parents (who had moved), with our new baby and I am literally walking in the door of our mobile home when we get back and the phone rings and this person on the other line is asking, “Where in the ‘h’ have you been.

This is investigator so-and-so and do you want a job or not.” And that was my introduction to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. I started the academy that September.

BVN: How old were you?

Doyle: I was 22. That was in 1975. Really when I was a deputy I started to think -- you know how you do – this can be better or that could be better and I thought to myself that I’m going to be the sheriff some day. I thought to myself that I know I can’t control all the variables so I thought that I would control what I can control.

BVN: Let’s talk about how Riverside County has changed since you’ve been here.

Doyle: Probably the last ten years is where the real acceleration has been.

BVN: That’s in buildings, and people…?

Doyle: Just people, the population has grown and the infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the people moving into this area. This is a very diverse county.

I mentioned earlier that I use to patrol down in Mecca, Thermal, Oasis and you could be in somebody’s house and they literally have a dirt floor and thirty minutes later you can be in a house that’s in one of the ten wealthiest cities in America.

Certainly one of our challenges as a county is to keep up with the growth that’s occurring so that the quality of life doesn’t get diminished. I think we are on the right path. We are looking at some integrated plans and looking at the big picture.

We’ve got to have better highways and we’ve got to have more arteries so that people can get from A to B so that we don’t end up like Orange County in gridlock.

From a law enforcement perspective, certainly over the last eight years, crime was down through out the United States, the economy was strong, people had jobs, we’ve seen that fall off, and as that happens crime rises. One of my challenges, as I see it, is to buck the trends of what we can.

We need to do things with the kind of growth we’re looking at, to maintain. If we can keep the crime rate where it’s at, we’re successful. We’ve got to look at our juvenile crime. We’ve got to do some things on the front end to keep them out of our juvenile system.

Let’s do some things on the front end to see if we can keep them from getting in there. We all benefit from that. It saves taxpayers money and it certainly saves families.

BVN: How has crime changed in your 28 years in law enforcement?

Doyle: Sad to say it’s gotten more violent. When I was on the street, you saw a more significant degree of respect for law enforcement than you do today.

I think that that is a social problem—part of it is a police problem that law enforcement has created but part of it is a social problem because our society is so saturated now.

I mean if you look at people that grew up in the 50’s and the naiveté that occurred there and then I look at my 14-year-old son and nothing is sacred anymore with our kids between what they get saturated with on TV and sex.

Because of that, they mature faster in terms of these issues and they are being forced to grow up faster than they should be.

Growing up, when you had differences with another person you might get into fist fights but now you have kids going home and getting guns because someone is making fun of them or being a bully and shooting people.

That’s a symptom of society and where we are and we have to get rid of that and our kids need to know how to deal with conflict.

BVN: What do you want this department to look like in the future?

Doyle: One of my goals is for our organization to better reflect the community that we serve. That’s the challenge that’s ahead of us. That kind of all ties into as you grow up and you get treated a certain way by the police then why would you want to become a policeman.

You don’t want anything to do with a cop. Those are the barriers that we have to break down. We have to start with kids when they are young so they don’t have those negative experiences and they will be interested in becoming a police officer and going back into the community to serve. It’s much bigger than my organization but this is where I have to start.

BVN: How do we reach those people who would probably do a good job, but don’t want to have anything to do with the police?

Doyle: Well you’ve got to practice what you preach. You got to get out into the communities and you’ve got to try to do what you can to develop relationships. That’s part of an attitude adjustment not just on the part of communities, but also on the part of police.

You’ve got to find the people that are not going to treat people badly based on their race. They are going to look at people as individuals and then those people go out into the communities and find people who are qualified. And then we find police officers from those communities.

One of the things that I found as I launched into this recruiting, retention and diversity thing is that we can do a better job of recruiting, we are not tapping into the resources that we have in our own communities here in Riverside County.

I don’t think we’re tapping the people that live here, that care about this community. It’s a great profession but it’s challenging in getting there if the community doesn’t trust the police. And you don’t do that by talking, you do it by doing and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

The foundation is built on trust and you do that by reaching your hand our and start building a little bit at a time. The real fruit of this effort will probably occur when I’m gone. I won’t be around but we will have made the kind of headway so that everybody’s quality of life as it refers to the community and police will be better.

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