Right Hooks

Commish Explains Why Blacks Underrepresented in Police Force

Jordan Candler · Jun. 10, 2015

As race relations in America depreciate amid allegations of “police brutality” — Cpl. Eric Casebolt with the McKinney, Texas, police department being the most recent example — the mainstream conversation has focused not only on how white officers treat black suspects but also the demographic breakdown of police departments across the country. The prevailing consensus among pundits and minorities is that these injustices, perceived or otherwise, would largely be put to rest if blacks represented a bigger share of law enforcement in places like New York City. But as New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently pointed out, there’s just one problem: A disproportionate number of blacks have criminal records, which annuls them from consideration. Bratton told the Guardian, “We have a significant population gap among African-American males because so many of them have spent time in jail and, as such, we can’t hire them.” Herein lies the problem. Minorities want to be better represented, but in places like New York they can’t — because they engage in behavior that makes them criminals and, thus, targets for greater police monitoring. It’s a vicious cycle not so much rooted in victimhood as character development. And until that cycle is broken, there is no solution.

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