Almost half of the 17,000 residents of Palisades Park, N.J., are Korean-American and 90 percent of the shops are Korean-owned, says the New York Times. Yet Koreans have had only a marginal impact is the police department: Of the 42 police and traffic officers, only 3 are Korean. Other New Jersey communities that have had robust influxes of Asians also have tiny fractions of Asian officers, or none at all. Some Asian officers say that few Asians are applying for police jobs.
“Being in law enforcement is considered a negative,” said Cochi Ho, an FBI agent in Newark. “In most Asian countries, police officers are considered low jobs for uneducated people.” Nationally, only 1.6 percent of the nation’s 664,000 rank-and-file police and sheriff’s officers are Asian, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Asians make up 4.2 percent of the country’s population. Both Asian and non-Asian police officers say getting more Asians on the force is important because police forces should mirror their communities and because those officers can help solve crimes that might confound colleagues unfamiliar with other people’s languages and mores.