Hiring more officers of color is difficult because so many potential recruits have criminal records, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton tells 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,” Bratton tells the news outlet.
From The Guardian:
Police departments, responding to widespread protests against several high-profile police killings of black men, are boosting efforts to recruit more non-white officers. But budget restrictions, strained relations between police and minority communities and, according to Bratton, a history of indiscriminate policing tactics that disproportionately target black and Latino men complicate the department’s goal of racial parity.
Bratton blamed the “unfortunate consequences” of an explosion in “stop, question and frisk” incidents that caught many young men of color in the net by resulting in them being given a summons for a minor misdemeanor. As a result, Bratton said, the “population pool [of eligible non-white officers] is much smaller than it might ordinarily have been.”
The application process to join the NYPD includes, among other things, a complete criminal background check, the report notes. And convicted felons are automatically disqualified from the pool of applicants. Meanwhile, the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy was struck down in 2013 by a federal judge, who called it a “policy of indirect racial profiling,” the report notes.
As easily as Bratton acknowledged that the hiring problem is the result of systematic racism, or “stop, question and frisk,” efforts should be made to reform the nation’s flawed criminal justice system, which is stacked against people of color. Let us not forget the story of 22-year-old Kalief Browder, who committed suicide recently after spending three years at New York City’s Rikers Island without ever being convicted of a crime. The NYC currently has over 50 Wrongful Convictions suits pending.