The New York City Police Department now has its most diverse force in history, with a majority of rank-and-file police officers coming from minority communities, the Wall Street Journal reports. Of the 22,199 officers on patrol at year’s end, nearly 53 percent were black, Latino or Asian, marking the first time minorities outnumbered whites by any significant measure. Minorities had been in a dead-heat with white patrol officers since late 2006, and began inching toward a majority in 2008.
White officers still are the majority overall, comprising 53 percent of the 34,526-member police force and holding an overwhelming majority when it comes to the higher ranks, especially in executive positions. Numbers from 2010 show only fractional increases in minority officers joining the ranks of detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains, bolstering critics’ claims that the force is not making enough of an effort to diversify its command structure. Police spokesman Paul Browne said the increase in minority patrol officers will naturally lead to a similar shift in leadership over time. Now, 18 percentof the 432 captains are minorities; of the 10 chiefs, three are minorities. Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union said diversity in the patrol-officer ranks is “certainly important, but that is not the end of the matter. Diversity in the command structure is just as important because commanders set department policy, supervise the work of the department, and in many ways are the face of the department.”