In the years of Jack Webb and television’s “Dragnet,” the Los Angeles Police Department was a white man’s department, says the Los Angeles Times. Relations with the black community were notoriously bad, and riots in 1965 and 1992 featured scenes of African American protesters clashing with a largely white police force. Today, the 9,314-officer LAPD is a different place. Like the city, it is less than half white; one in five officers is a woman, and Hispanics make up roughly a third of the department.
In part, the police department’s embrace of diversity has been under the threat of federal court intervention. The hiring and promotion goals for women and minorities are laid out in two court-monitored mandates. One commits the LAPD to seeking to make women 20 percent of the force, a level that the department is roughly at today. The second provides the legal framework for recruiting and promoting blacks, Hispanics, and women. African Americans make up 12.7 percent of the police force; whites were 62.3 percent of the force in 1990 and are 42.3 percent today; Hispanics, who were 21 percent in 1990, now make up 36.8 percent.