The Corner

Politics & Policy

Re: In Policing, Race Matters

New York Police Department (NYPD) officers form a line near City Hall in lower Manhattan, New York City, July 1, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

For the record and with all respect, I do not agree with James R. Copland’s “In Policing, Race Matters” (September 7, 2020) that it is a good idea for the federal government to do what a recent bill proposed by Republicans provides, namely “make[] grants to States, units of local government, Indian tribal governments, other public and private entities, and multi-jurisdictional or regional consortia” for the purpose of “hir[ing] recruiters and enroll[ing] law enforcement officer candidates in law enforcement academies to become career law enforcement officers who have racial and ethnic characteristics similar to the community” when “a law enforcement agency . . . has a substantially different racial and ethnic demographic makeup than the community served by the agency.”  

That is, I don’t think that the federal government should be encouraging racial and ethnic employment discrimination in order to ensure that police departments mirror the racial and ethnic numbers of the communities they serve. Such discrimination is unconstitutional and inconsistent with federal civil-rights statutes; it sets a bad precedent that will be used to advance similar discrimination in all kinds of other contexts; and it will inevitably result in lowering the quality of police officers for the communities that can least afford it. The purported benefits are simply too speculative to justify these costs.    

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