Posted March 25, 2008 – Chicago's African-American preachers say that city officials can prove they’re serious about overcoming decades of flimsy rhetoric about diversity in the police force by simply hiring and promoting more Black officers.
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As it stands now, slightly more than one in four of the Windy City ’s police officers is African American, and one in 12 is a lieutenant. But when 36.5 percent of the city is White, 35.3 is Black and 28.2 percent Hispanic, the current racial breakdown of the force is unacceptable, the ministers say.
"Part of the reason why they have trouble recruiting in African-American communities is because it has not been perceived as a friendly place for African Americans to work and a place they can look forward to being promoted because of performance," the Rev. Marshall Hatch, pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, told The Chicago Sun-Times. "He needs to make sure everybody gets a fair shake – not based on some good ol' boy network."
The Rev. Albert Tyson, of St. Stephen A.M.E. Church, called the numbers "appalling. It's important – both with regard to what people in the community see and what officers see as they strive to move up the ladder. It's also important in terms of the department possibly being more sensitive to larger numbers of people they serve.”
Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has proved he is serious about diversity, pointing to the 90 people she says he has promoted so far: 58.8 percent are White, 27.7 percent are Black and 11 percent are Hispanic, she told the newspaper.
"These numbers reflect a sincere effort to diversify the ranks and provide opportunities for those who want to move up," she said.
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