Police forces need diversity

By Thunderworld Staff

A city's police force should be a direct reflection of the public they serve.

Demographic diversity is lacking in police departments throughout many cities in Washington state.

Statistics in a Thunderword story published on Jan. 26 showed that cities such as Kent, Federal Way, and Des Moines have police forces that are overwhelmingly white. 

Statistics like these are common all across the United States; the police force does not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

Cities with minority-majority populations tend to have police forces with very low percentages of minority officers, according to a New York Times study.

This needs to change.

If community members see themselves reflected in the police force, an officer's authority will no longer seem like a threat to one's safety.

By having more officers of minority backgrounds, it could reduce tensions between citizens and officers. 

There may be more of a cultural understanding between people of the same ethnicity, something the law cannot communicate.

Diversity in the backgrounds and experience of officers can bring a variety of perspectives to the field, which may be lacking. 

While a few bad cops can ruin the idea of justice for all, it is important to remember that officers are people, too.

Often times, social problems avalanche onto officers. It is undoubtedly a tough job that includes making crucial decisions under pressure. 

Diversity should not only focus on race; there should also be gender diversity in the police.

Due to traditions in both backgrounds, it is not common for women or minorities to join law enforcement. 

When hiring new officers, the goal is to always hire the person most qualified. If the goal is broadened to include greater diversity, the competition will increase for everyone attempting to get into the field.

Many police departments are actively looking to diversify their force; they are aware of the need for officers other than white males. 

Of course, they cannot fire half of their department just to hire non-white officers. There are many valuable employees who happen to be white. 

The color of an officer's skin should not take away from their authority or take away from the respect we show them. 

While police departments should be commended for their efforts to increase the number of officers with different cultures and genders within the force, we hope they continue these actions and always strive for diversity. 

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