Two Racine Police officers, one White and one Black, stand outside a building at the corner of Memorial Drive and Ninth Street on the morning of Feb. 25, during a homicide investigation. In the past three decades, police departments locally and nationally have become more racially diverse and have a higher proportion of female officers, but policing as a profession remains dominated by White men.
STEPHANIE JONES, JOURNAL TIMES FILE PHOTO
In 1992, The Journal Times published a story titled “Cop force still white, male” with the subtitle “Few minorities, women with the department.”
Nearly 30 years later, while more women have joined the Racine Police Department, the number of Black officers has only gone up by one. In total, however, minorities now make up a larger percentage of the force while the department’s total staff has shrunk.
Still, the department’s officers as a whole are not nearly as diverse racially as the population they police.
“As we recruit new members under the current environment, significant changes in recruiting will be required. Potential officers will need to be identified at a relatively early age and cultivated within the communities they will eventually police,” Howell said.
While he is retiring at the end of the year, he is working with Racine Unified School District to possibly establish a public safety “pathway” in Racine Unified high schools. Right now, RUSD high schoolers have nine Academy pathways to choose from, ranging from health sciences to culinary arts to computer sciences. Each pathway is intended to help students explore future career paths while still in high school.
Through this pathway, Howell said that 18-year-olds who normally would have aged out of the Explorer Scouts program could “come through the development process” and “be eligible to be hired as RPD cadets” and work through the department until they turn 21, at which point they would be eligible to become a fully certified police officer.
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