The number of Black police chiefs in America has been increasing over the past few years, as inclusion seems to be a thing among officers in top leadership roles. But the issues of policing Black communities haven’t shifted and in many ways gotten worse. Police brutality, excessive use of force and racial profiling haven’t gone away because the country has more Black police chiefs. But the burden of fixing these problems often falls on the shoulders of the top cops and some believe it’s unfair.
“Sometimes it does seem like an unfair burden that, just because (a chief) comes in who is African American, decades of mistrust are just going to melt away,” Brenda Goss Andrews, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and a former deputy chief of the Detroit Police Department, told AP.
“You’re not going to be able to solve that quickly and, in some cases, if at all,” she said. “But the key thing is that you have to take the time to talk to the community and see what’s going on.”
According to ABC News, the percentage of Black police chiefs running local departments that serve more than 250,000 residents has increased over the last decade. In 2020, about 47 percent of major city chiefs were white, 38 percent were Black and 13 percent were Hispanic. Four years earlier, 65 percent of major city chiefs were white and 19 percent were Black.
But the system they serve often makes it impossible to address bad policing due to the fear they may lose their jobs.
“You’re still in a conservative, white male-dominated profession and these guys still have to buy into you. If they don’t buy into you, they’re calling for your job,” Terrance Hopkins, the Black Police Association of Dallas, told AP
This weekend in Detroit, Black police chiefs will join commissioners, sheriffs and commanders from across the country for The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ annual CEO symposium to address diversity, equity and inclusion in policing. The two-day conference will also hold panel discussions on best practices for mental health responses in policing, and managing the response to mass shootings. The first-of-its-kind symposium is named after William Bracey, a former New York Police Department leader who co-founded NOBLE almost 47 years ago.
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