In a recent Philadelphia Police Academy class of 35, just one was African-American and the rest were white. The lack of racial diversity troubled David Fisher, president of the newly formed local chapter of the National Black Police Association, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said finding African-American officers had become more difficult, in part because of national news reports of black men being killed by police. “It’s not a day that goes by that you don’t see something negative about what’s occurring in policing somewhere in the country,” said Ramsey, who is African-American.
Fisher said that of 70 recruits scheduled to graduate from the Police Academy in the next two weeks, only eight to 10 of them are black. Requiring recruits to pass a polygraph test and have 60 college credit hours could be contributing to the falling number of blacks making it to the Police Academy, Fisher said. “Then you have many minorities in a hold status until they correct issues such as poor credit and school-loan defaults,” he said. Malik Aziz, president of the National Black Police Association, agreed that the policies were detrimental to diversity, as are what he called “subjective” background checks and psychological tests. The Philadelphia Police Department, with more than 6,300 officers, is 57 percent white, 33 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Asian. The city’s population is about 36 percent white, 44 percent black, 13 percent Latino and 6.9 percent Asian.