KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the wake of continuing civil unrest surrounding police shootings in the St. Louis area, the state is considering how best to encourage more minorities to become police officers. A neighborhood leader met with 19 metro area police chiefs on Tuesday to discuss recruiting more people of color.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster would like to see scholarships or other state programs that pay for minorities to become police officers.
Koster says the police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo., highlights a crisis in representative policing.
Making the police force look like the community it serves has proven to be no easy task for police chiefs in the metro area.
While the population in Kansas City, Mo., is nearly 30 percent black, blacks represent only about 11 percent of the city’s police force.
“I hear people talk constantly about the police department needs to reflect the community,” said Darryl Forte, Kansas City’s police chief. “There are so many other occupations out there that do not reflect the community. But we are working on it, we are making great strides in that area.”
Kansas City’s efforts look good compared to some suburbs. Two-thirds of Ferguson’s citizens are black, but nearly all of Ferguson’s police officers are white, which has been a source of complaints. Forte says our metro area is not immune to a Ferguson-like incident. For example, 40 percent of Grandview’s residents are black, but blacks represent less that two percent of that suburb’s police force.
Nineteen metro area police departments have agreed to participate in a minority recruiting event next month at the Linwood Multipurpose Center in Kansas City. Agencies hope to forge stronger bonds with the people they serve.