Number of African-American Cops Slowly Dwindling in Philadephia

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
Philadelphia, PA

For several years, the number of new African-American recruits joining the Philadelphia Police Department has been declining, and now some blacks in Philly, who have recently tried and failed to join the department, are starting to wonder if the city is purposefully denying blacks entry to the department.

In a city where 44 percent of the population is black, the city’s 6,300-officer police department is only 33 percent black, and that number is declining. This, critics say, means the Philly PD doesn’t “reflect” the community.

In fact, according to the Daily News, the number of African-Americans in the department has been in steady decline since Mayor Michael Nutter took office and appointed Chief Charles Ramsey. This despite that both officials are themselves African-American.

The growing lack of diversity is worrying community leaders who feel that the racial disparity increases the disaffection between the community and the department.

Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad, for instance, claimed that the “growing absence of diversity is going to produce a big cultural disconnect in this city.”

Muhammad went on to claim the “indigenous people of a given community” are not being served by white cops.

“When it comes to black and white, too many of our residents begin to feel that they’re in occupied territory rather than being the beneficiaries of what would be good community policing,” Muhammad added. “I’m afraid for our city.”

Critics of the dwindling number of black cops say that one or both of the problems may be the college requirement and the psychological test, but authorities in both the mayor’s office and the department say that these requirements won’t be changed.

Chief Ramsey absolutely insisted that the two requirements were a must. He noted that we shouldn’t tell high school kids that they can get good jobs without college and insisted that it would be an “embarrassment” for the city to lower qualifications just for blacks and Latinos.

“Our kids are just as smart as any other group of kids, and are capable of doing the same things that anybody else is capable of doing,” Ramsey said.

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