Since the Ferguson, Mo., shooting there have been renewed calls for police departments to hire more minority officers. NPR reports that it’s not that simple. U.S. police are more diverse than they were a generation ago. In the 1980s, 1 in 6 officers were in an ethnic or racial minority. Now it’s 1 in 4. The challenge is finding enough recruits to keep the trend going. The most stubborn diversity problem seems to be in the inner-ring suburbs where the population has shifted to majority minority but are still served mainly by white police.
“We can’t get more black officers. We recruit predominantly at black schools, the military, and for the life of me I don’t know why. It’s not the best-paying job; they’d probably do better in the private sector … I know it’s not for the lack of trying,” said St. Louis County officer Erich Von Almen, who is white. You hear that a lot in America’s inner-ring suburbs — departments say they just can’t attract enough minority applicants. Cedric Alexander, public safety director in DeKalb County, Ga., admits that there’s something to this complaint. “Many young people today, particularly of color, have far more opportunities” professionally now than 40 years ago, he says.