The State Police is stepping up efforts to have minorities join their ranks.

The stepped-up effort has been ongoing for years, since the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People threatened legal action in 2011 because of low minority recruiting numbers.

“We’ve really had dramatic results in increasing our numbers across demographic categories over the last six classes,” said State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes. “We just established a recruiting bureau. It used to be a unit, now it’s been expanded to a bureau, so there’s a lot more emphasis on it, more commanders in charge of it, and recently the Department of Law and Public Safety has freed up money for us to travel and recruit.”

Fuentes says that allows the State Police to be competitive, even with federal law enforcement agencies, because they’re now visiting colleges “where you’re catching people during those times when they’re making critical career decisions.”

State Police Lt. Brian Polite, who is heavily involved in recruiting efforts, said the message delivered to NJSP candidates is “the best way that they can make a positive change in their community is being part of the State Police or being part of a police force."

"We review the many benefits joining the State Police can offer, but we stress that gives you the chance to really affect your community in a positive way, and I think that’s what most people are looking to do.”

He added, “if young people see things in their community that need to be changed and they have a certain view about law enforcement, we offer them a different perspective. We stress the best way to affect change in your community is to be a part of that change and to join a law enforcement team.”

Over the past 4 ½ years there have been six new recruiting classes to graduate from the State Police Academy.

In January of 2012 there were 85 graduates:

Asian males — 5
Black males— 2
Hispanic females — 2
Hispanic males — 11
White females— 9
White males — 56

In October of 2013 there were 91 graduates:

Asian males— 6
Black males— 12
Hispanic females— 1
Hispanic males— 25
White females— 3
White males— 44

In December of 2013 there were a total of 118 graduates:

Asian males— 7
Asian females— 1
Black males— 20
Hispanic females— 1
Hispanic males— 29
White females— 3
White males— 57

In August of 2014 there were a total of 149 graduates:

Asian males— 4
Asian females— 1
Black males— 17
Black females— 2
Hispanic females— 1
Hispanic males— 19
White females— 7
White males— 97

In February of 2015 there were 109 graduates:

Asian males— 1
Black males— 11
Black females— 1
Hispanic females— 1
Hispanic males— 7
White females— 4
White males— 84

In January of 2016 there were 134 graduates:

Asian males— 3
Black males— 10
Hispanic females— 3
Hispanic males— 24
White females— 8
White males— 86

Since January 2012 there have been 686 graduates from the State Police Academy. That total includes 213 Asian, black and Hispanic men, and 48 Asian, black, Hispanic and white women, which means more than 38 percent of all new State Troopers over the past 4 ½ years have been minorities.

“More minority members are joining the New Jersey State Police because of the establishment of the recruiting bureau, the success which is evident in the work of that bureau out in the community, and the help of the community and the help of the community leaders,” said Fuentes.

He explained community leaders are told “look you can identify for us the people that you want to see in the State Police, and then we go out, we assign mentors to them, we counsel them, we help them with their careers and we get them to walk in the door and take the test.”

He stressed this effort is very important because police agencies need to reflect the people that they serve.

“We patrol cities, we patrol suburbs, we patrol the rural areas, so it’s very important we do that. It helps us obviously with police-community relations,” he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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