New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton revealed the reason the police force is so disproportionately white is because black applicants often have run-ins with the law.
Police departments are making a serious effort to hire more non-white officers, The Guardian reports.
But according to Bratton, young minorities have recently found themselves in an increasing amount of what he calls "stop, question and frisk" incidents, and those result in summons being given for minor misdemeanors.
Therefore, he said,
[The] population pool [of eligible non-white officers] is much smaller than it might ordinarily have been.
A single summons does not automatically eliminate a candidate's eligibility, but it can definitely impact the decision to accept an application.
However, applicants with multiple offenses, especially those suggesting "disrespect for the law," could be disqualified, Bratton told The Guardian.
A domestic violence charge or a dishonorable discharge from the military also warrant automatic disqualification.
Stop-and-frisk policies ended with Judge Shira A. Scheindlin's conclusion the policy resulted in officers stopping "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white."
Bratton, however, is still a staunch supporter of a strategy called broken windows policing.
This involves an increased focus on minor offenses with the hope it will prevent the targets from committing more dangerous crimes.
New York has seen a significant decrease in major crime under Bratton, but his critics say broken windows policing could be responsible for the growing tension between minorities and the police.
Robert Gangi, the director of the Police Reform Organizing Project, told The Guardian,
We're certain the disfavor and the antagonism in the black community toward the police is a principal factor in why so few black men want to become police officers.
And there's research to back up this claim. A July 2014 study of prosecutions handled by the Manhattan district attorney's office found black defendants were 15 percent more likely to face jail time for misdemeanors than white defendants.
The research, published by the Vera Institute of Justice, ultimately determined that should a black defendant face a similar charge as a white defendant, the former is 5 percent more likely to be imprisoned.