Kelvin Nance, the son of two Philadelphia police officers, is an African American whose application to join the force was turned down because he failed a psychological exam. “I think they are trying to hinder African Americans,” he tells the Philadelphia Daily News, noting that blacks are fewer than 10 percent of new officer classes in a city where 44 percent of the population is black, where the mayor and police commissioner are black and where the NAACP this week is holding its annual convention.
Since 2008, the year Mayor Michael Nutter took office and appointed Charles Ramsey to lead the department, 1,229 police officers have been hired, nearly two-thirds of them whites. About 20 percent have been black and 15 percent other ethnic groups. The 6,300-officer department, now 57 percent white, 33 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Asian, likely will become even whiter in the years to come. Ramsey says finding qualified blacks to hire had become more difficult, in part because of national news reports of fatal clashes between black men and police officers from Staten Island, N.Y., to Ferguson, Mo. Ramsey says his record on creating a diverse department “is a work in progress,” adding, “I think people are trying to look for simple answers to something that’s complicated.”