Good police departments are as diverse as the communities they serve

“I didn’t see any Muslim police officers when I was growing up in New York,” said Lieutenant Adeel Rana of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

“Part of the reason I became a policeman was for my community and for the next generation — so they’d see someone like them being a policeman,” said Rana, who immigrated from Pakistan to the United States with his family in the late 1980s and became a police officer in 2004.

The first rule of community policing is that police officers have to be part of the communities they serve. Given the different races, ethnicities and religions across the U.S., police departments undertake initiatives to mirror that diversity.

“People see someone familiar to themselves, and then it becomes a reality:
‘Oh, if they can do it, I can do it too.'”

— Officer Eric King of Atlanta’s LGBT Liaison Unit

Take a look at some of the campaigns underway:

  • In Georgia, Atlanta police officer Eric King always brings recruiting materials when meeting with groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Four people King personally recruited from meetings with the LGBT community have graduated from Atlanta’s police academy in the last two years.
  • The Minneapolis Police Department has six officers from the city’s Somali community and is hiring more. Somali officers continually participate in outreach. “Some of our best recruiters are community members,” said Chief Janee Harteau.
  • After the 9/11 attacks in New York City, the NYPD made a concerted effort to recruit from the Islamic community. Fifteen years later, Rana is one of 1,400 Muslims in the department.
Police officer talking to man and woman (© AP Images)
A New York City police officer talks at a recruiting event. (© AP Images)

Chief Chris Magnus of Tucson, Arizona, says, “We really are working hard in big and small departments around the country to make sure that the folks we hire are representative of the people that live in the community.”