Police Departments Find Legal Hurdles To Increasing Diversity Of Forces

In many cities, well-intentioned policies that were not meant to discriminate have become obstacles to hiring a diverse police force, reports the New York Times. In Inkster, Mi., Police Chief William Riley found a significant problem was something that seemed mundane: how training is paid for. Other cities face rigid hiring processes that were intended to prevent elected leaders from handing out police jobs as patronage, but that make it harder to shape the force to mirror the population. “Local police chiefs take the hit for this, but the truth is that states get what they ask for through legislation,” said former Boston police commissioner Edward Davis. “That's the bottom line here.”

Cost of Criminal Justice Higher for Young Black Men

Black men face greater obstacles and harsher penalties than other offenders as they move through the criminal justice system, from higher bond amounts to more severe prison sentences, according to a study published recently in the American Society of Criminology journal Criminology & Public Policy. The research examined the cases of 3,459 defendants indicted on felony charges in an urban U.S. jurisdiction and found that young black men face “cumulative disadvantages” throughout the criminal justice process. The authors found that these disadvantages—in which negative events lead to further disadvantages—impact a defendant's bond amount, pretrial detention, their treatment by police and the courts, and their ability to find employment upon release. “From a theoretical standpoint, the finding of stronger cumulative disadvantages for particular demographic groups offers another dimension to the applicability of discretion-based theories to an understanding of racial disparities in sentencing,” write authors John Wooldredge, James Frank, Natalie Goulette and Lawrence Travis III in an article entitled “Is the Impact of Cumulative Disadvantage on Sentencing Greater for Black Defendants?” “Toward the end of reducing racial disparities in the distribution of prison sentences, a policy implication of our findings would be to reduce the court's reliance on money bail and/or more careful consideration of bail amounts for indigent defendants.”

Chicago Black Leaders Seek McCarthy Ouster Over Personnel, Murder Rise

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is expected to testify before aldermen today, after most of the board's Black Caucus called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire his top cop, reports the Chicago Tribune. The request came the same day McCarthy announced a command shakeup in which the department's highest-ranking African American retired and was replaced by a Hispanic. McCarthy, a brash New Yorker, has angered aldermen virtually since his arrival in 2011, and there have been rumors about his impending dismissal seemingly every other week for years. The call for McCarthy's ouster was made against the backdrop of Chicago seeing a year-over-year rise in shootings and homicides. Emanuel has been making changes in his cabinet as he starts his second term.

DOJ Slams St. Louis County Cops on Community Relations

A federal assessment of the St. Louis County Police Department prompted by the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014 found that the department “lacks the training, leadership, and culture necessary to truly engender community policing and to build and sustain trusting relationships with the community.” That was a major conclusion of a report issued today by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) after a lengthy review by the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization that studies police issues. Brown was shot by an officer in the municipality of Ferguson, but the St. Louis County department is the major law enforcement agency in the county in which Ferguson is located and handles much of the policing throughout the area.

Latino Officer’s Plea: “Cop Brains” Shouldn’t Be “Occupying Force”

Kansas City police officer Octavio “Chato” Villalobos wanted to become an officer to stop the racial profiling he experienced and his children continued to experience. His plan quickly changed after basic training. “I went in with a good heart and came out with a cop brain,” he said in Memphis yesterday in a workshop aimed at strengthening relationships between Latinos and law enforcement, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I used my Spanish to arrest people, because that’s how I’m going to be a good cop … I had to prove that I was a good officer by their standards.”

Lynching: An American Tragedy That Won’t Go Away

Last February, the Equal Justice Initiative produced a report detailing almost 4,000 lynchings of blacks in 12 southern states between 1877 and 1950, and spurring the Initiative’s current effort to place memorial markers at those lynching sites.

The Troubling Link Between Ferguson and Charleston

Since August 2014, when an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot dead by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, the use of force by police—particularly against minorities—has become the focus of national attention. Similar incidents in places ranging from Cleveland, Ohio to New York City—and last month's church shootings in Charleston SC—have reinforced a national movement, #blacklivesmatter, as well as a spurred a debate that has drawn in every sector of American life. But Ferguson continues to serve as the watchword for an ongoing national examination of policing strategies as well as the lingering racism in American society. A Department of Justice (DOJ) review confirmed a grand jury's conclusion that Officer Wilson was not culpable in the killing, but a subsequent analysis released month reportedly found fault with police actions to control protests in Ferguson following the incident, suggesting citizens' rights to free assembly were violated. This month, the review of the incident by the DOJ Civil Rights Division of the Ferguson shootings was published as a book by the New Press, a not-for-profit publishing company, along with a searing introduction by famed civil rights attorney Theodore M. Shaw.

Minority Numbers In Policing Nearly Double Over 20 Years

Racial or ethnic minorities accounted for 27 percent of local U.S. police officers in 2013, a slight increase from 25 percent in 2007 and up from about 15 percent in 1987, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. About 130,000 minority local police officers were employed in 2013, an increase of about 13,000 since 2007 and 78,000 since 1987. Hispanics or Latinos accounted for 60 percent of the increase since 2007. An estimated 12 percent of officers were Hispanic or Latino in 2013, more than double the estimated 5 percent in 1987. Black officers made up about 12 percent of local police officers in 2013, up from about 9 percent in 1987.

Voters To Decide Ferguson’s Future In City Council Elections Today

Much has changed in in the majority black city of Ferguson, Mo., since a Justice Department report last month detailed racism and “unconstitutional policing” among the mostly white police force, says the Los Angeles Times The white police chief resigned. So did the white city manager who hired him. So did the white municipal judge whose fines on predominantly poor residents enriched the city budget. Today, voters will decide Ferguson’s future when they choose three new City Council members in the first municipal election since Michael Brown’s death on Aug. 9.