Albany's racial demographics mirror its Police Department - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany's racial demographics mirror its Police Department

Phyllis Whitley-Banks Phyllis Whitley-Banks
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - According to 2010 US census data, Albany is 71.6% black. The demographics of the Albany Police Department are almost identical to the demographics of the city as a whole. 70 percent of APD's sworn officers are African American. Officials say that helps as they serve a city that is majority black. 

"Since it does mirror the community and population here in Albany," said Albany Police Department's Phyllis Whitley-Banks. "That it is likely that an officer on our force will come in contact with someone with the same social background."

Following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, stats were revealed that the city's racial makeup was not reflected in its police department. Only 3 members of Ferguson's 50-person department is African American, even though the city is 67% percent black. Critics say if the police force in Ferguson, Missouri was more diverse, the department would have a much better relationship with the community and the shooting death of Michael Brown might have been avoided. 

Albany Police hope if anything good can come out of that tragedy, it's that more young African Americans consider careers in law enforcement.

"I'm hoping it will," Banks said. "That they will take an opportunity to come on board with the Albany Police Department."

APD doesn't have any kind of quota system. The fact that the police force nearly matches the city's racial makeup is a coincidence, but the department does have an active recruiting program to try to attract the best officers, regardless of race.

"We encourage all people, anyone to come and apply," Banks said. "We have gone as far as outside of Albany to recruit additional people to come onto the department. We are not looking at race, we are looking at your background."

White officers account for 25 percent of the force, which is identical to Albany's racial diversity. The same can be said for the 2 percent of Hispanics and the remaining 2 percent classified as "other."

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