Which is it?
This is a problem. Day in and day out, in every major city across America, police officers are driving in from out of town, into the inner city, to police men and women they don’t know and most often don’t understand in any empathetic fashion. In a sweeping study done by the Center for Public Integrity, it was determined that regardless of whether a large city had a majority African-American or Latino population, the majority of police forces in every city but Atlanta had a far greater share of white officers than the actual population.
In another study of the 75 largest cities in America, it was found that while 50 percent of African-American and Latino police officers lived in the actual cities they serve as officers, only 35 percent of white officers can say the same.
The disparity is starkest in cities with largely black populations. In Detroit, for example, 57 percent of black police officers live in the city but just 8 percent of white ones do. Memphis, Tennessee; Baltimore; Birmingham, Alabama; and Jackson, Mississippi — also majority black — likewise have large racial gaps in where their police officers live.
As a nation, as we seriously think through how to make significant improvements in public safety, we must consider the detrimental impact of these trends. It’s far too easy to use force on people you don’t know, aren’t connected with, and likely never will be.