Recruiting efforts and demographic shifts have made the 35,000-officer New York Police Department, the nation’s largest police force, its most internationally diverse, reports the Associated Press. A 1,103-member academy class that graduated this month is a United Nations of law enforcement: 264 of the rookies were born in 48 countries, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Albania, and Burma. Police rank-and-file in big cities like Los Angeles and Miami “don’t have that kind of diversity, not close,” said Jason Abend of the National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association.
The influx of recent immigrants has changed the face of a department historically dominated by officers of Irish, German, and Italian backgrounds. Recruitment in past generations largely consisted of sons following fathers onto the job. The department now has about 40 officers assigned full-time to recruit from all corners of the city and its immigrant communities. It has budgeted millions of dollars for advertising and hired a top Manhattan firm, the Bernard Hodes Group, to mount a campaign that emphasizes diversity. Advertisements appeared in ethnic newspapers. Diversity on the police force is “necessary to serve a diverse community. It builds trust,” said Deputy Inspector Martin Morales, head of the the police recruitment section.