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Bellevue police are hiring, but not like before

The Bellevue Police Department is altering its hiring practices to add diversity and to account for legal marijuana. (KIRO Radio)

The Bellevue Police Department is altering its hiring practices to focus on creating a more diverse force and to account for legal marijuana.

“We are challenging our processes and everything else,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show.

Related: Bellevue’s “cool cop” rebuilds trust on his skateboard

Those processes are aimed at bringing the Bellevue force up to date. And now is a good time to do it. There are currently 10 positions open at the police department, with five more becoming available soon. The department is also facing a series of retirements over the coming two years.

Bellevue police are hiring

For example, the chief notes that the police force’s demographic does not reflect the community that it serves — it’s mostly white men.

“As most people will tell you, and I’ve been here two years, Bellevue has sprouted up overnight to include diversity,” Mylett said. “There was nothing nefarious the Bellevue Police Department did. It’s just the fact we are 80-percent Caucasian. But the demographics of the city are 49-percent Caucasian.”

“We are underrepresented in a number of ethnic minority classes,” he said. “We need more Asian, Hispanic … and everybody across the board. We want to see deep diversity in the police department. There are so many benefits to having people from different cultural backgrounds.”

Diversity is not the only departmental tweak Mylett is working on. He said that the department has adjusted policies around candidates’ backgrounds, including marijuana use.

“I’m not looking for squeaky clean individuals that have not had life experience,” Mylett said. “If you have made mistakes in your life … one of them is drug use.”

Bellevue police previously barred anyone from hire who had used marijuana in the past three years.

“We looked at that,” Mylett said. “The fact of the matter is that marijuana is legal in this state; it’s still a federal violation … we live in a different time. So we reduced it down to one year.”

“So if you haven’t smoked marijuana in the past 12 months, you’re good to go. Come on down,” he said. “If you smoked last night, stay home. You don’t need to come down and waste your time.”

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