Despite clear gains made during years of recruitment campaigns to diversify the Houston Police Department, the force still is not fully reflective of the city’s ethnic makeup, says the Houston Chronicle. Nonetheless, today there is roughly a 50-50 chance a Houston police officer responding to a call will be Hispanic, African-American, or Asian.
Law enforcement experts, community activists and police commanders say a diversified force is a powerful asset for reducing crime, noting that minority officers can more easily get cooperation in ethnic communities when crimes are committed there. Hispanics now make up 42 percent of the city population, but comprise only 23 percent of police ranks. Blacks represent a little more than 25 percent of Houston’s population, and 21 percent of the police department. Women make up 49 percent of Houston, but the 752 female officers fill only 14 percent of slots slots. The only group whose police representation matches its Houston population is Asian, at 5 percent. The top rungs of police management are occupied mostly by Anglo officers: Of the 42 captains who command the critical divisions in the department, 36 are Anglo; whites hold 130 of the department’s 195 lieutenant slots. Larry Hoover, director of the Police Research Center at Sam Houston State University, noted that few police departments in the country have been able to exactly match their staffing with the ethnic profiles of the cities they serve. But it is worth the effort to try, he said.