A racial divide separates many Texas law enforcement agencies from the communities they protect, says the Dallas Morning News. In hundreds of cities, counties and towns, white officers dominate the ranks, even in communities where whites are the minority. In Waco, almost 80 percent of the police officers are white. But whites make up just under 45 percent of the population. a gap of 35 percentage points. An analysis by University of Texas students found that almost 1 in 7 minorities lives in a community with at least a 30-point gap between white police officers and white residents. State records say there were no minority officers at all in 215 police departments and sheriff's offices.
The majority of police officers are white in many suburbs surrounding Dallas, a ring of towns and cities that was often the first destination for “white flight” after school desegregation began in the 1970s. The majority of residents in most of those suburbs are now minorities. “No agency wants to be the next Ferguson, Missouri,” said Phillip Lyons of the Texas Regional Center for Policing Innovation in Huntsville. “Ferguson didn't want to be Ferguson either. But when you have an all-white police force or practically all-white police force that is policing a primarily minority community, there likely will come a day when that disparity is going to be a problem.” Minority recruiting hasn't kept pace in many law enforcement agencies as the number of nonwhites in Texas cities and suburbs has grown, especially the Hispanic population, which has soared in recent years.