But police hiring of other minorities has increased, report shows
The percentage of African-Americans in U.S. police departments has remained flat since before the recession, even as police hiring of other minorities has increased, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey released Thursday.
A lack of black officers, especially in communities with large African-American populations, has been cited frequently in the wake of police-involved deaths of black residents that sparked riots in cities from Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore in the past year.
Black officers make up just 12% of all local police officers, the survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed. The overall U.S. black population is 13.2%, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Departments struggle to recruit and retain African-Americans in part because of black distrust of police departments and possibly outdated criteria for employment, according to researchers who have studied the issue.
“The numbers are not so surprising. We’ve known that this is an issue,” said Anne Kringen, a criminal justice scholar at University of New Haven in West Haven, Conn. But she said the report doesn’t address why recruitment has remained stagnant.
“Unfortunately, we still haven’t gotten to the multitude of reasons why,” which includes everything from a lack of resources to a lack of training in how to best attract minority candidates, she said.
The survey by the bureau, part of the U.S. Justice Department, is the first of its kind since 2007 and measures data gathered through 2013. The report didn’t break down minority numbers or percentages by individual departments, but officials said they would release more detailed data in the coming weeks.
The survey shows that the total number of sworn police officers at more than 12,000 local departments across the U.S. in 2013 was 477,000.
Source: Wall Street Journal | BEN KESLING and CAMERON MCWHIRTER