The Race Gap In U.S. Policing: Many Departments Much Whiter than Community


In hundreds of U.S. police departments, the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve, says an analysis of a government survey of police departments reported by the New York Times. Minorities make up a quarter of police forces, according to the 2007 survey, the most recent comprehensive data available.

Experts say diversity in the police force increases a department's credibility with its community. “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,” said Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University. The Times lists local police departments from 15 metropolitan areas.

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