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Could the strained relationships between police and the Black community improve if there were more African- American cops patrolling predominantly Black neighborhoods?

Civil rights activists have been calling for more Black police officers after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the death of Freddie Gray Jr., from Baltimore, who died in police custody on April 19, and so many other cases involving police and dead black men.

In the case of Freddie Gray, it’s not a simple case of racism and policing: Three of the six police officers charged in Gray’s death are Black, which underscores that the pervasive flawed police culture transcends race. The distrust among Black residents toward police of any color has never been more apparent.

And now, there is a broader issue to consider: The Wall Street Journal reported that the percentage of African-Americans in the nation’s police departments has remained stagnant for years, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey.

The Journal reported that Black police officers make up just 12% of all local police officers and the overall U.S. black population is 13.2%.

“The numbers are not so surprising. We’ve known that this is an issue,” Anne Kringen, a criminal justice scholar at University of New Haven in West Haven, Conn, told The Journal. “Unfortunately, we still haven’t gotten to the multitude of reasons why,” which includes everything from a lack of resources to a lack of training in how to best attract minority candidates,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the total number of sworn police officers at more than 12,000 local departments across the U.S. in 2013 was 477,000. About 58,000 Black officers were working in the U.S. in 2013, compared to about 55,000 in 2007, but the percentage of Black officers as a share of the total number of police remained flat at about 12%.

Recruitment of Black officers has been increasingly difficult over the years because many Black men harbor such distrust toward cops that they could never see themselves as part of what they perceive as a racist culture in law enforcement.

And then, there are other problems.

“Many departments attract a diverse pool and subjective admission and hiring policies wash them out after the first interview,” Malik Aziz, executive director of the National Black Police Association, told the Wall Street Journal.

I believe community policing and more Black police officers, can slowly rebuild trust in the Black community and reduce police profiling and shootings of unarmed men and women.

Like many Americans, I was filled with anger while watching a graphic video of a white South Carolina police officer shooting an unarmed Black man, Walter Scott, in the back eight times after Scott ran from him after a traffic stop earlier this year.

The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, a police officer with the North Charleston, South Carolina Police Department, has been fired and charged with murder. I wonder if a Black police officer would have been so fast on the trigger in putting down an unarmed man who was no threat to him.

We’ll never know whether a Black cop would have reacted differently in the Walter Scott or Michael Brown or Eric Garner cases under the same set of circumstances. We do know that three of the six police officers who could have rendered or called for medical assistance for Freddie Gray, Jr., did not, but if the overall police culture included more Black officers and more training about cultural and racial differences, maybe the outcome would have been different.

I believe, all things being equal, that if more Black cops are patrolling Black neighborhoods, tensions in communities of color could be diffused heading into a long, hot summer.

What do you think?

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15 thoughts on “Black Cops: Part Of The Solution Or Part Of The Problem?

  1. blackspeak on said:

    Cops, black or white are not the problem… The lack of education and jobs is the problem in predominately black communities… Well educated black people with jobs, don’t need cops as much as those with no education, too little educations and too few or no jobs…

  2. When the police department is predominantly white where the community has a good percentage of Black, then what usually happens is that the minority of Black police officers invariably, give in to the police culture and mentality of disrespecting the Black community they serve. They place being a police officer over being Black.

  3. specialt757 on said:

    Some cops no matter the race just become “tough bitches” with a gun. Again I will say, if you sign up to be a cop let it be for all the right reasons, not just a paycheck. If you don’t feel you can protect and serve the communities you may be assigned, then pick another profession. All police aren’t bad, I’ve met very polite, and respectable officers of any race but I’ve also met some straight up assholes. The police work for the citizens not the other way around, maybe that should be understood before you take the oath. That doesn’t mean kissing anyone’s ass it just mean to uphold the law, you’re not there to administer the punishment, just arrest and make the case for the prosecutors. Don’t become the criminal yourself.

  4. Pallas on said:

    Some cops are good, some are bad. The police force should be a reflection of the city for which they work. Many city/county governments have required this for some time now. There also needs to be more stringent criteria, including education, to become police officers. That is a very important job with minimum qualifications to become one. And don’t get it twisted, there are many black racists/bigots, some are cops, that don’t give a damn about black people. Hell, some of them post comments on this website. The most racist person that I ever met was a 46 year-old black female scientist that was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Yes, we still have a lot of work to do in the black community, the killings and crime need to stop. But at the same time, we can demand that this police overreach stop and that they be held to a higher standard. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

    • Pallas on said:

      From my comment above, yes, we still have a lot of work to do in the black community, the killings and crime need to stop. But at the same time, we can demand that this police overreach stop and that they be held to a higher standard. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive.
      Reply ↓

  5. Ms Curly on said:

    In my opinion there are bad cops of every race. I also believe that some of the bad cops are also racist. Although the black cops played a part in Mr Grays death, he was chased and arrested by white cops. I still believe that his injuries may have originated from the take down.

  6. Linda on said:

    African-American cops can be just as brutal as their White counterparts. It seems once these so called “men” put on that badge and gun-they think they are God.

    I don’t want any preferential treatment from a law enforcement officer who has the same complexion as me–I just don’t wish to be disrespected/beaten/shot/killed.

    In addition, there is a code of silence amongst cops which needs to be broken. If you see a fellow officer do something wrong to a civilian on the street-don’t lie for him or stand by him-STAND UP and SPEAK ON IT!

    Cop Escapes Charges After Shooting an Unarmed Man With His Hands Up on Video
    Texas officer claimed that he feared for his life and thus shot and killed Ruben Garcia Villalpando.
    By Jay Syrmopoulos / The Free Thought Project


    • jhuf on said:

      what and ignorant Racist comment, Black and White cops work in distressed crime and drug ridden Black community’s doing more to help and protect citizens from other citizens, how many black men have been killed by cops compared to another community member this year

  9. Reblogged this on Whit C. and commented:
    This is such a true post. I agree that until the stigma of minorities not trusting the police is gone, men of color will not want to pursue the role of becoming a police officer. In light of these recent events, I am not sure if there will be any way that they could enhance the recruitment of minorities to convince them that they should become a law enforcement officer. There have also always been talks about hiring qualifications and requirements that minorities don’t meet, but when it comes down to it, would you want to start a career with people you don’t trust?

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