Diversity Alone Won't Stop Police Violence
Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2001
(Washington Post) The recent Post series documenting Prince George's County police as among the most brutal in the nation exposes a long-hidden truth: A racially diverse police force under the command of black elected officials is no guarantee against police violence.
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The notion that racial diversity is the key to fighting police brutality has deep historical roots. In the wake of riots across American inner-cities in the 1960s, the Kerner Commission called for "increased Negro participation in police departments" because "for police in a Negro community to be predominately white can serve as a dangerous irritant."
But in Prince George's County, where the police force killed more people during the past decade than any police force in America, and where no officer during that time has been fired or demoted for shooting somebody, the police department is 41 percent African American. Moreover, the county that has become known as America's wealthiest black suburb has a black county executive and chief prosecutor. Nor is Prince George's alone: In recent years Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington all have suffered police misconduct scandals. Yet each of these cities has either significant black leadership or police force representation. [More]
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