In hundreds of U.S. police departments, the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve, says an analysis of a government survey of police departments reported by the New York Times. Minorities make up a quarter of police forces, according to the 2007 survey, the most recent comprehensive data available.
Experts say diversity in the police force increases a department's credibility with its community. “Even if police officers of whatever race enforce the law in relatively the same way, there is a huge image problem with a department that is so out of sync with the racial composition of the local population,” said Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University. The Times lists local police departments from 15 metropolitan areas.