In Massachusetts’ largest cities, minority supervisors are significantly underrepresented in police departments, says the Boston Globe. The Boston Police Department, in which 20 percent of top supervisors are minorities, has been most successful in recruiting and advancing minority officers. It still falls well short of the overall makeup of the population, which was 51 percent minority in 2000. If Boston is removed from the mix, the numbers are more dismal. The state’s other nine most populous cities boast a total of only 25 minorities among the 519 officers with a rank of sergeant or above.
“It’s deplorable that the numbers are so low,” said Angela Williams-Mitchell of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers. “Unless these departments have managers in place who are serious about diversity, nothing will change.” Several police chiefs pinpointed the promotional exam, which was developed by the state, as the crux of the problem – a belief shared by Williams-Mitchell’s association and minority officers who recently filed a lawsuit contending that the exam discriminates against minority groups and has prevented their advancement. Why the promotional exam has become such a stumbling block for minorities is unclear. In their lawsuit, the officers said the multiple-choice exam gives only a very limited view of leadership skills.