VOTE: NJ lawmaker wants ethnicity of police departments to reflect their communities?
With the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown come calls from lawmakers for police departments to reflect the ethnic makeup of the communities in which they serve.
No shock there.
Just the other day, the President announced a task force to recommend how to better train local departments and "strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color and minority communities that feel that bias is taking place."
Locally, State Senator Shirley Turner introduced a bill that would require all law-enforcement agencies to establish minority recruitment programs to ensure that departments mirror the communities that they serve.
"Having a diverse police force helps provide officers with greater sensitivity to people from all backgrounds and allows residents to better identify with the officers patrolling their neighborhoods."
No one doubts that cultural differences exist – however policing is policing – whether it’s done in poorer minority neighborhoods, or in more well-to-do areas.
Some may disagree with that assessment, but speak to any law enforcement official and they’ll tell you that regulations are put in place to insure all citizens are treated equally.
Would black officers necessarily be able to enforce the law in minority communities in a more equitable fashion than their white counterparts?
Upon further reflection, what does “more equitable” mean?
In other words, given the same set of circumstances which led to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner – had the police officers been black instead of white – would there have been a different outcome?
My thinking is “no!”
Especially in the Garner case, while some may disagree with the outcome of the grand jury decision, as did I - a female African American sergeant was in charge of the operation, thereby taking race out of the equation.
Besides that, recruitment drives geared to minorities tend to fall short of their intended goals - mainly due to lack of interest; or the lack of the necessary qualifications on the part of candidates to become a members of the force.
A community is best served with the best qualified police officers – regardless of race, color, creed, and all that goes with it.
Should the ethnicity of police forces mirror the communities in which they serve?