Aug 29, 2014
No comments

Data reported by the San Jose Mercury News examining the racial diversity of the Richmond Police Department (RPD) is inaccurate, an RPD official said on KQED’s Forum Thursday.

Using U.S. Census Bureau 2010 American Community Survey five-year estimates, the Mercury News reported that RPD is 57-percent white in a city with a population that is 65-percent black and Latino.

“Those numbers aren’t accurate,”RPD Deputy Police Chief Allwyn Brown told Forum host Michael Krasny during a panel discussion on the subject of police demographics in the Bay Area.

Of RPD’s 182 active police officers,  Brown said, 40-percent are white and the remaining 60-percent are from minority groups.

Brown used the forum to tout how RPD’s community policing and inclusion tactics have led to significant crime reductions in the city.

“Here in Richmond, we’re still perfecting a system we put in place some eight years ago that really centers on police building strong relationships and partnerships with communities,” Brown said. “We emphasize keeping the.same beat officers in the same neighborhoods for longer periods of time so they do develop relationships of trust, which enable communication back and forth and for officers to work more closely in solving neighborhood problems at a neighborhood level with community members. We think that that foundation has been significantly important and played a big role in our ability to down crime.”

RPD echoed the sentiment on Facebook Friday.

“The public conversation about police force demographics goes beyond the restrictive terms of population parity to include fostering cultures of inclusion and building relationships of trust between police and community,” the post stated.

RPD’s transparency and openness to feedback and criticism from the community has also made a big difference, Brown added in the Forum discussion.

The subject of racial demographics in U.S. police departments has been debated nationwide since the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent clashes between the city’s mostly white police department and mostly black community.

The Census data reported by the Mercury News estimate that more than 80 percent of Bay Area police forces are disproportionately white when compared to the community they serve.

Several Bay Area police departments have been disputing the Census data. The Mercury News did report that the estimates “may not exactly reflect police demographics.”


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.