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Former officers say BLM, ‘defund’ movements have reversed diversity trends achieved by police agencies

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There has been a steady decline in police recruitment of black officers following a rise in the Black Lives Matter movement and its “defund the police” message, according to recent statistics discussed by two former officers on Wednesday’s “Fox & Friends” program.

Fox News co-host Brian Kilmeade noted the decline in black police recruitment amid a spike in crime and violence in most major cities before bringing in Texas congressional candidate Tre Pennie, a former Dallas police sergeant, and former NYPD detective Dr. Oscar Odom.

“It doesn’t surprise me. It’s unfortunate that we have actually hit this point in American history where if you think about it, since the 90s, we have been on this community policing push where we have been trying to increase our ranks of diverse officers in our communities,” Pennie said. “It only took five years for the BLM movement and the defund police movement to reverse that whole process.”

He went on to discuss recent conversations he has had with young black men regarding joining a police department.

 

“I got a group of young African-Americans getting off of the bus. I was trying hopefully thinking they were going to be excited about engaging the police,” Pennie said.

“One of the guys said to me I’m not going to talk to no ‘racist police.’ I got to talking to the young man. I pulled out my I.D. and I told him I was police for 22 years,” he added. “And I broke that ice. And he got excited these kids were so excited to see that I was a police officer.”

According to the New York Police Department, there has been a 14-percent decline in the number of black officers since 2008, declining from 4,162 to 3,598 last month. There have been similar declines in black officers in other major cities including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Fox News reported.

Writing in The Atlantic, David A. Graham said police agencies around the country are seeing black officers reaching retirement age, noting that attempts to recruit black replacements have had little success.

“Black employment in the Philadelphia Police Department has fallen 19 percent since 2017. The number of Black officers in the Chicago Police Department has dropped by 12 percent since May 2019,” Graham wrote.

“Even Washington, D.C., long a leader in minority-police recruitment, has had a 25 percent decrease since 1998, when two-thirds of officers were Black, to 50 percent today, though the city also got whiter over that time period. The LAPD has seen a 24 percent drop in Black officers, from 1,175 in 2010 to 885 today, though the department’s ranks have also shrunk,” Graham added.

At the same time, murders are increasing around the country, rising 16 percent across all major cities this year over last year, Fox News added, citing statistics from a study by the Council on Criminal Justice.

Odom was in agreement with Pennie, going on to suggest that police departments focus more recruitment efforts at historically black colleges and the U.S. military. He also said that a department-wide tuition reimbursement program could draw more black recruits with college degrees.

“If you have some sort of loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement or saying you served the police department five years, we absolve your loans. That will get them inside the door. Then they may like what they are doing and see how they are giving back to the community and continue to stay on the police department,” Odom told Kilmeade and Pennie.

“But, we have to go out there and reach out. Given COVID-19, people realize work-life balances have changed,” he continued. “This is also a dangerous job. Though rewarding, it’s dangerous. We have to look at those things and the public needs to support the police more that would help a whole lot.”

Jon Dougherty

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