Mass. Police Forces Struggling with Diversity

Massachusetts state police investigate a shooting at a gas station, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Pittsfield, Mass. One teenager is in custody and a second is in the hospital after the shooting. The victim has been hospitalized. (AP Photo/The Berkshire Eagle, Ben Garver) BERKSHIRE COURIER OUT, GREAT BARRINGTON RECORD OUT, RURAL INTELLIGENCER OUT, BERKSHIRES OUT
Massachusetts state police investigate a shooting at a gas station, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Pittsfield, Mass.
AP

Amid the racial tensions between a predominantly white police force and a predominantly black citizenship in Ferguson, Mo., The Boston Globe looked at the diversity of police forces in towns across Massachusetts.

The report found that, despite years of working toward more diverse police forces, eight communities across the state where the majority of people are neither white nor hispanic are still policed largely by white officers.

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Disparities in Massachusetts are not as stark. But local officials acknowledge that they have struggled for years to diversify police department ranks, a challenge they attribute to failed recruitment efforts and obstructive state Civil Service rules that govern hiring.

“Ferguson brought this to the forefront, but we’ve always been having this conversation,” said Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, acknowledging a disparity in his city of 76,331, where white residents make up only about 20 percent of the population, but account for nearly 77 percent of the police force. He sent a letter to the state Human Resources Division earlier this year highlighting concerns with decades-old rules that govern the department’s hiring process.

You can read the full Boston Globe report here.