With only 4 percent Black officers and 6 percent Hispanic out of more than 4,700 troopers, the New York State Police continue to fail to diversify and the department remains overwhelmingly white, an imbalance some troopers say is rooted in a legacy of racism, reports ABC News. A half-dozen minority troopers told The Associated Press discrimination has flourished within the ranks, despite the agency having been ordered to diversify by a judge in the 1970s. Current leaders acknowledge the agency’s lack of diversity has become more urgent amid a national reckoning over racial injustice. The U.S. Justice Department sued New York in 1977 for discriminating against minorities in promoting and hiring troopers. At the time, just 13 of the agency’s 2,712 troopers were Black.
A federal judge mandated that 40 percent of recruits entering the State Police training academy be Black or Hispanic, seeking to bring minority representation in line with the state’s workforce. The same judge dissolved the remedial hiring goals in 1989 after the agency managed to increase its Black and Hispanic representation to 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The consent decree was quietly lifted in its entirety in 2015 after the state argued it had made “great strides.” The percentage of Black troopers had fallen to 6 percent by mid-2014 and has continued to decline. Troopers report continued problems with overt and covert interdepartmental racism and racially biased policing tactics. Senior Black troopers have also revived an organization known as the Guardians Association to represent the voice of minority troopers.