Four out of five New York City police officers shot dead in the line of duty since 2001 have been black. The latest was Dillon Stewart, 35, last Monday. The New York Times says the number of blacks in the 37,000-member police department has risen slowly over the decades, but more rapidly in recent years. Blacks now make up 17.4 percent of the force – up from 9.2 percent in 2001 in a city where more than 25 percent of the population is black.
Department officials and others, from criminal justice experts to officers on the street, said there was no single answer for what put any officer in harm’s way on the day or night of his death. Thomas Reppetto of the Citizens Crime Commission and a New York police historian, said, “Street patrols are going to have a higher portion of younger officers. After people are around a while, they move to special units and higher in rank. Since a lot of minority officers have been hired in recent years, not only have we increased the number of minority officers, but you’ve probably increased the number of those at an operating level.” Still, federal statistics show that the New York has tracked a national trend that more often than not it is a veteran officer who is killed as opposed to new or less experienced officers. None of the four black officers killed since 2001 was young or new to the force; three were detectives with considerable experience.