TORONTO - Toronto police were in the heart of the city's gay village Saturday afternoon hoping to further expand the force's diversity portfolio through one of many recruiting sessions aimed at members of the gay community.

The police service has made efforts to diversify its force by recruiting officers who reflect a variety of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds found across the city.

Const. Gail Steed from the police employment unit said the information sessions for the gay community are a natural extension of that outreach.

"Our service wants to reflect our diverse communities in the city,'' she said. "We don't ask anybody to tell us their sexual preference, we just strive to get an accurate representation of the city.''

Mike Schneider, 23, who arrived early for the closed session, said he heard about a few recruiting events being held at a community centre in recent weeks, but this was the first one he had attended himself.

"I think it's great the police are coming to the gay community for these sessions,'' said Schneider. "This is very encouraging, and it shows the police support and welcome us.''

"This is good way to reach some people in the community who may be afraid of coming out.''

But others attending the session said they were concerned their sexuality would be more valued than their qualifications.

"I wanted to see if they was any difference applying as a heterosexual or applying as a gay person,'' said Chris, 30, from Aurora. "Hopefully they aren't using it as leverage.''

"If I am going to get in, I want to get in because of my own ability and not because of my sexuality,'' said Chris, who didn't want to use her last name.

That's what worries Staff Sgt. Don Cole of the Toronto police service. He said he thinks the information sessions targeting specific communities are "ridiculous.''

"Anybody is free to join,'' said Cole. "Why are we targeting them and begging them to join?''

"We should be looking for the best people, not people who fit the quotas and are substandard. I don't see where we are going with this.''

He said it's common knowledge the force has been actively seeking visible minorities and women, but he thinks that filling those quotas shouldn't conflict with the integrity of the candidates' qualifications.

"We're winding up with people who are unsuitable, and we have to keep kicking them out because they can't pass anything,'' said Cole.

"Let's go back to the best people get hired, and that's it.''