Americans' opinions toward the police remain heavily divided. The path to defeating police brutality, especially regarding race-based discrimination, is continuously debated across our nation and our campus.
The Minneapolis Police Department currently aims to build diversity within their precincts. The main demographic absent from the police force is women. Only two out of the twenty upper level positions at the Minneapolis police department are held by women, according to a recent article in the Star Tribune. Attempting to adjust this gap, the department is creating recruiting tactics specifically catered to women, such as a video titled “Women of the MPD,” that was created to challenge stereotypes.
Diversifying the police force will not significantly decrease the amount of police brutality. While bringing in more minority officers is a choice we would support, it should not be the only response to police brutality. In the fight against excessive force and racially targeted arrests, it is not enough to bring in officers that are the same skin color as the people most impacted by police brutality.
The problem is the institution of police. While many people will argue that “not all police are bad,” they fail to understand that racially charged police violence is a systemic issue. Racial profiling and the criminalization of black Americans has remained unsolved since the abolishment of slavery in 1865. The entire policing system within our country is based on targeting black males and other minority groups. Resolving police brutality requires a revamp of the police system entirely.
While the MPD's intentions are positive, bringing in more women is not enough to make a real change.
Our police departments need to work toward a real solution. Increasing diversity can help people feel safer. The demographic numbers in Ferguson, Missouri, a place often tied to the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement, were uneven. Within the Ferguson department, 50 officers were white and only three were black. This imbalance may have played a role in cases of police violence. Numbers like this are alarming and should be improved, but changes need to revolve around more than recruitment. The system of policing needs to change before more people’s lives are taken.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for an enhanced police presence in downtown’s streets and, while he intends to adjust training methods of the officers, the increase of officers shouldn’t happen until training adjustments are made. Otherwise, minorities in Minneapolis will still feel targeted. Ending the decades of senseless police killings requires a major change.