One local entrepreneur is trying to get more diverse representation among Cleveland first responders

Posted at 9:38 AM, Mar 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-09 09:55:10-05

One local entrepreneur is trying to help get more diversity among Cleveland’s first responders such as police and firefighters.

The Cleveland Police are hiring as many people as they can while aiming to hire those that represent the people they serve and protect.

Meanwhile—Cleveland fire has just three women in the whole department and hasn't hired a female in nearly 30 years.

“Stay up, you can’t lay down, stay up,” said Cleveland Firefighter June Colon to his crew of 15 potential police and fire recruits.

He’s running a tight ship, trying to get people like Shruthi Anderson mentally and physically in shape.

“I kind of have an idea of what I’m getting myself in to,” Anderson said.

Colon and his company NTN consulting are taking citizens like Anderson and molding her into the civil servant she can be, so that she has a fighting chance.

“I think about my kid’s future, where they’re growing up and like a community, we’re all there for each other,” Anderson said.

A community where her husband was murder just months ago on the streets and now she wants to protect and serve as a Cleveland Police Officer.

RELATED: Cleveland hasn't hired a female firefighter since 1989

RELATED: Cleveland Battalion Chief: CFD can be more proactive about recruiting and helping female cadets

“I think one person at a time, that’s how it gets started,” she said.

And that’s where Colon steps in.

“Representation matters,” he said.

Representation he says that isn’t there. On Cleveland's police force, we found out of more than 1,400 officers, nearly 1,000 are white.

“The demographics being served aren’t being served by demographics that represent them,” Colon said.

So he’s initially finding underrepresented groups in the community, training them and giving them the proper tools to pass the recruitment exams. One of the most difficult and rigorous parts is the physical training.

Cleveland Fire Chief Angelo Cavillo told city council physical demands like this test are part of the reason his department hasn't hired a female firefighter in nearly 30 years. But Colon sees past the obstacles.

“Gender I wouldn’t say really plays a role, we just try to strengthen up their weaknesses and make sure their strengths become stronger,” said Colon.

All the while, emphasizing the true meaning of the job.

“It’s about bettering the community,” Anderson said.
The company is brand new and Colon says he hopes to expand it statewide, ensuring more departments have a diverse roster.