Mayor Joe Schember says Erie’s police and fire departments should reflect the same cultural diversity as Erie’s citizens, and he wants that done by 2021.
The mayor plans to do it with a lot of help, neighborhood open houses, outreaches to veterans, even classes at Erie High School.
For the past nine years, Seenah Michele has been a firefighter in the mostly-white, mostly-male Erie Fire Department.
Her career choice made early when, as a young girl in Buffalo, she met a female firefighter.
Now, she works to be that example to others.
“I have people come up to me all the time wanting to shake my hand or take a picture or just want to congratulate me for doing the job. People want to stop just like I did when I saw that female firefighter all those years ago.”
Mayor Joe Schember wants more stories like Seenah’s and is rolling out a plan to increase minority applications for police and fire jobs.
The new initiative has a number of prongs in it. One of them is getting kids thinking about these kinds of careers at an early age. For that, the city has solicited the help of the Erie School District.
The result is expanded public safety classes at Erie High that will even include work on how to take and pass the Civil Service Test.
“We’re looking for ways to engage our kids, get them more interested in education having these unique and exciting programs align perfectly with those initiatives.”
The jobs can be dangerous, no doubt, but family-sustaining too. An Erie Firefighter will make more than $76,000 after three years. An Erie cop makes more than $78,000 in the same timeframe.
The first open house is set for April 10th at the Booker T. Washington Center.