Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How racial diversity makes police forces better - WASHINGTON POST

by Sounman Hong 
Originally published: December 5, 2017

Over the past several years, police misconduct toward racial minorities has been an explosive topic in U.S. and U.K. public discussion. Mobile phone and security videos have made it possible for nationwide audiences to see police misbehavior for themselves. In the United States, nationwide protests erupted after police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 — an effort that is continuing in the NFL’s weekly #TakeAKnee protests. In the United Kingdom, similar protests exploded after the police killing of Mark Duggan in London in 2011. Opinion polls show that in both countries, many racial minorities distrust the police.

Can increasing the numbers of minority police officers reduce police racial misconduct? Between 2000 and 2010, the U.K. government assumed that the answer was yes — and worked to significantly increase the share of ethnic minority police officers in every force within the country. To find out whether racially representative policing made a difference, I investigated — and found out the answer is yes, although not precisely for the reasons expected. Here’s what my research found, and what the United States can learn from across the Atlantic.