Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 31, 2015

Lack of Police Diversity Hurts Crime Fighting

Emily Badger: “The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson where the working-class, majority-black population has been clashing with law enforcement for the last three days has 53 commissioned police officers.”

“According to the city’s police chief, three of them are black.”

“These numbers … speak to a fundamental problem rooted deep in history and driving the perception of injustice in Ferguson today: This community isn’t represented in its own institutions of power.”

“Such scenarios still exist in many places, including Ferguson. Last year, the Urban Institute and Todd Gardner, a survey statistician with the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies, compiled a brilliant historic dataset comparing the demographics of U.S. cities to the makeup of the civil servants who serve them. Historically, from Cleveland to Birmingham to San Jose, we see minorities underrepresented in higher-paying, more powerful public sector jobs like police officer, while they’re overrepresented in low-wage government jobs like janitor.”


  • embo66

    I was having trouble understanding the values given in the graphs, so I found a better discussion of this same study:

    To wit: The graphs express the issue in terms of proportions, not actual numbers / percentages, etc. Groups above 1 are overrepresented in the municipal ranks relative to their share of the working-age city population. Groups below 1 are underrepresented.

  • embo66

    What’s depressing here is the negative progress minorities in general — and blacks in particular — appear to have experienced since 1990. I’d always figured that progress was slow, but steady nonetheless. This data belies that.

    A “post-racial” society, my butt.

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