PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Trooper Robin Mungo has been with the Pennsylvania State Police for 22 years, working everything from highway patrol to community relations.
“This has definitely been a way of life, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything other than this,” Trooper Mungo said. “If I had to do it all over again, I just would have done it earlier.”
Now, she’s trying to convince women and minorities at recruitment fairs to follow her path.
Current staffing numbers can only be described as abysmal. Women make up only 12 percent of the state’s troopers, minorities less than seven percent. But the most astounding statistic might be – of 4,325 troopers, the state police employs only 11 black females.
“We have to start someplace, and it is huge task, and that’s why I became a recruiter,” Trooper Mungo said.
The state police have doubled their recruitment staff from six to 12 troopers and is making a push to overcome the reservations of minorities about pursuing a career in law enforcement, especially in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’ve had people come right out and say, ‘I don’t want to be a cop, because I don’t want to shoot black people,’ and that’s coming from a young kid,” said Trooper Mungo.
It’s a major hurtle for police and sheriff departments across the Commonwealth, which are desperately trying to recruit qualified women and minority candidates to better reflect the communities they serve.
It’s especially hard for the state police, which patrols predominately white, rural areas.
“We need to be a reflection of our society, so if this is something you’re thinking about, law enforcement is a great opportunity,” Trooper Mungo said.
Still, the state police have starting salaries of $59,000 a year with great benefits and a healthy pension plan. It also has more than 100 specialty assignments, which is something that appeals to potential recruits like Monica Anderson.
“I would want to do it just to prove everybody wrong about it, that females can do things that males can do, and being a minority, it would be even better,” Anderson said.
Trooper Mungo says that’s what makes her assignment so important.
“As a black female in law enforcement, I had a little bit of a struggle,” Trooper Mungo said. “You saw these things that are happening throughout our country, but I realize, this is where I’m supposed to be, and in order to make changes, we have to be within.”