The police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and the citizens they see as they stare through their gun-sights look dramatically different, says the Washington Post. Two-thirds of the 21,000 residents of Ferguson, the small suburb of St. Louis, are African American. Some 95 percent of the officers sworn to protect them are white. That disparity is hardly unusual, both in police departments across the U.S. and in other local government agencies. Whites are more likely to hold jobs with local governments than African Americans, Hispanics or other minorities. Whites are much more likely to hold high-paying jobs in those governments. While the disparity between white and non-white employment has narrowed over the last half century, with more anti-discrimination laws and greater diversity, it remains the fact that whites are employed more, and at higher wages, than non-white counterparts.
In a nation with a 64 percent white population is white, according to the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows almost 75 percent of full-time sworn law enforcement personnel are white. African Americans make up 12 percent of law enforcement agencies, just about in line with their 12.2 percent share of the population. In police departments, it's Hispanic officers who are the most underrepresented: Though they account for 16 percent of the population, just 10.3 percent of law enforcement officers are Hispanic.