Dallas Police Struggle to Reflect Diverse Population

The Dallas Police Department is struggling to reflect the diverse population it serves, even with hundreds of white officers leaving the department in recent years.

The city's population is now 28-percent white, but the police force of 3,279 officers is 49-percent white. Meanwhile, the Hispanic population has grown to more than 40 percent, but the department is just 21-percent Hispanic.

Activist Rene Martinez said the Dallas Police force has made good effort trying to hire Hispanic officers but more is needed.

"Our population is going to continue growing beyond 40 percent, so that population of police officers that are Spanish-speaking has to grow," Martinez said.

Deputy Dallas Police Chief Scott Walton said the number of Hispanic officers increased the past 10 years from 441 officers in 2006 to 693 now.

"And that really speaks to our overall recruiting effort to bring more Hispanics into the department ,and that's actually going on right now," Walton said. "If you can't communicate, you really can't understand the issue and you can't solve their problems."

The department has doubled the number of recruiters to visit more places in search of candidates.

Dr. Alex Del Carmen, professor of criminology at Tarleton State University, said recruiting may become even more difficult in the wake of protests and attacks against police.

"People in general are not going to be attracted to a law enforcement career. They're going to be looking at other options. And so what law enforcement has to do is step up their game to be able to recruit these folks into law enforcement," Del Carmen said.

Dallas Police reported a surge in applications after the July ambush that killed five officers.

Since then, fears of a shaky pension system and better pay elsewhere are reasons cited for a surge in Dallas Police retirements and resignations.

As of Nov. 1, compared with 2013 figures, 245 white officers had left the force along with 14 black officers.

"What you're seeing now is the exodus of many individuals that came into the force 25, 30 years ago," Del Carmen said.

The number of Hispanic Dallas Police officers increased by 57 in that same time.

Map data by OpenStreetMap, under CC-BY-SA. Image Copyright, 2013, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Dustin A. Cable, creator)

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