White Cops Policing Minority Communities…All Too Common
Branded with photo after photo of white police officers confronting, intimidating and in some cases abusing minority demonstrators, the saga of Ferguson, Missouri, has drawn attention to the disparity in many American communities that are racially out of balance between those living there and those charged with protecting them.
The New York Times found dozens of cities across America in which “the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve.”
In some towns, such as Dellwood, Missouri, and Stone Park, Illinois, the difference is greater than 70%. The gap in Ferguson is 55%. Other communities with a 50% or greater racial disparity include 11 in New Jersey alone, eight in Illinois, and six in California.
According to The Washington Post, Niagara Falls, New York, has an all-white police force of 250 despite having a population that is 20% black.
Hispanics are also underrepresented in many police forces. For example, in Montclair, California, 70% of the population is Hispanic, but Hispanics make up only 15% of the police force. Stone Park, Illinois, is 88% Hispanic, but the police force there is only 17% Hispanic, and Cicero, Illinois, with a population of more than 83,000, is 87% Hispanic, but Hispanics make up only 28% of the police force. In South Houston, Texas, the numbers are population 88% Hispanic; police force 13% Hispanic.
And then there’s Alhambra, California, where the majority (53%) of the population of 83,000 are Asian, but Asians make up only 13% of the police force.
“Even if police officers of whatever race enforce the law in relatively the same way, there is a huge image problem with a department that is so out of sync with the racial composition of the local population,” Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University, told the Times.
Not all cities have police forces in which minorities are underrepresented. In Santa Monica, California, 45% of the police are minorities even though the city’s population of almost 90,000 is only 30% non-white.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
The Race Gap in America’s Police Departments (by Jeremy Ashkenas and Haeyoun Park, New York Times)
Where Minority Communities Still Have Overwhelmingly White Police (by Emily Badger, Dan Keating and Kennedy Elliott, Washington Post)
In 75 Largest U.S. Cities, 60% of Police Live Outside the City They Patrol (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)
If Ferguson is 67% African-American, Why are the Mayor, the City Council Majority and 50 of 53 Police White? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)
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