Police leaders in southern Maine are talking with members of the city's large Somali population about future openings in law enforcement.
Chief Michael Bussiere of the Lewiston Police Department visited schools in the area and discovered many Somali boys listed law enforcement as their dream job, the Sun-Journal (http://bit.ly/1Ajgvga) reported. Speaking to parents Thursday at the B Street Community Center, he told them as much as 20 percent of the department will be eligible for retirement in the next three to four years.
"We want to have a police department that represents the diversity of the community we serve," he said.
Candidates have to be at least 21 and graduate with a high school diploma, but they prefer two- to four-year degrees and military service.
Officers are given background checks before they're hired, and candidates are assessed with rigorous fitness tests and a lie detector test. They must also meet with a psychologist to make sure they're physically and emotionally capable of doing the work.
When asked if the uniform was mandatory, Community Resource Officer Joe Philippon said the traditional loose clothing of Somali women was unsafe for the job. Officers are identified by their uniforms so they must look similar.
"When officers all go out there, they all look the same; they all dress the same," Bussiere said.
The group talked about visiting jails, riding along with officers and touring the police station to learn more.