Charlotte Fire Chief discusses goals ahead of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference

Charlotte's first permanent African American Fire Chief discusses diversity goals

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson is currently making rounds to every shift at every station.

He wants to communicate with employees his vision, answer questions, and extinguish any rumors that may have circulated about his mission.

“We currently do not reflect the community,” Johnson said. “And I kind of want us to walk down that road.”

Johnson says it has been a challenge to recruit a diverse group of employees. He says he is going to conquer those obstacles because he thinks that goal is worth it. He believes the department will be better and the city will be better prepared if Charlotte's Fire Department mirrors the city.

“Diversity as far as just thoughts,” the Chief said. “Different experiences really help with problem solving and innovation.”

Johnson’s efforts highlight the struggles and proactive strategy agencies across the Queen City are currently dealing with.

With public safety continuously changing, four local agencies, including Johnson’s Fire Department, are teaming up to “transition and change” the thought process around race and gender and starting the conversation around recruitment, legal issues, cultural diversity, and human relations.

The City of Charlotte is hosting its first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference, the first of its kind in North Carolina, between April 14-April 17 this year.

“We plan to bring together a diverse group of people and presenters who are subject matter experts in their respective fields,” said the organizers of the event.

The four agencies at the forefront of the conference are the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Charlotte Fire and MEDIC. They plan to focus on the following items to make their agencies more inclusive.

Public safety leaders nationwide have realized there is a serious need for education and training related to diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance (Source: City of Charlotte)
Public safety leaders nationwide have realized there is a serious need for education and training related to diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance (Source: City of Charlotte)
  • Developing programs that increase the awareness of cultural diversity, improve human relations, and foster equal opportunity and affirmative action;
  • Create an environment free of discrimination, harassment and intimidation;
  • Assure each individual the opportunity to achieve his/her highest potential;
  • Establish an atmosphere that instills ethical practices and produces quality leadership

“While race and gender demographics are certainly part of this dialogue, this conference will promote a multi-faceted discussion including recruitment, legal issues, cultural diversity, and human relations,” said a release sent out by the City of Charlotte about the event.

Public safety leaders nationwide have realized there is a serious need for education and training related to diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance.

The conference is being geared toward community leaders, political advocates, public safety servants, and recruiters.

“We sincerely hope that this conference will provide an ongoing platform to continue the dialogue and find creative ways to enhance the inclusiveness and diversity within our respective organizations,” said the event’s organizers.

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