By Greg B. Smith, THE CITY
Nearly 70% of New York City’s residents are Hispanic, black, Asian or mixed race — a non-white majority that’s steadily solidified since the 1980s.
But over at One Police Plaza, the top ranks of the New York City Police Department appear to be frozen in time.
Almost 80% of the NYPD’s chiefs and deputy inspectors and inspectors who hold a rank above captain are classified as “non-Hispanic white.” Add in captains, and the NYPD leadership is still 72% non-Hispanic white.
While the racial and ethnic diversity of rank-and-file patrol officers has grown substantially over the last 30 years, the upper echelon of the nation’s biggest police force hasn’t come close to keeping pace.
The imbalance between police and the policed plays out in precincts across New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has pushed the department to embrace the community policing model that encourages beat cops to foster relationships with local residents.
Using data obtained from the Police Department, THE CITY examined the NYPD’s hiring and promotion over the last three-plus decades, looking at a snapshot of the racial and ethnic breakdown of the uniformed force every 10 years since 1988.
Our review found:
• In 1988 and again in 1998, 90% of the force at ranks above captain was non-Hispanic white. Today it remains 79% non-Hispanic white — while overseeing a force of police officers that is 45% white.
• Commanding officers in 48 of the city’s 77 neighborhood precincts are non-Hispanic white as of this week. That includes 13 white COs running precincts where the population is at least 80% non-white.
• While the share of Hispanic and Asian patrol officers has risen dramatically, challenges in recruiting black officers persist, helping drive under-representation in higher ranks. The share of patrol officers who are black rose from 13% in 1988 to peak at 18% in 2008. But that figure has since dropped to 15% — in a city where 24% of the population is black.
• As of Jan. 31, 18% of the uniformed force was female (6,648 of 36,753), and 8% of those holding a rank above captain were women. Of the 77 precincts, nine are run by women.
• Fraternal groups representing black and Hispanic officers say they face an internal ceiling that inhibits promotions to the top echelons — because attaining a rank above captain is a purely discretionary choice of the NYPD’s predominantly white top brass.
This story was originally published on [September 3, 2019] by THE CITY.”
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