Police Department Representation
The rate of commissioned police officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department per 1,000 residents
White residents are more than twice as likely as black residents to be represented in the Police Department.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Police Department Representation, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean the racial demographics of the police force reflect the demographics of the City.
What does this indicator measure?
Police Department Representation measures the rate of commissioned police officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department per 1,000 residents. In 2016, there were 1,187 commissioned officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which equates to a rate of 3.8 officers per 1,000 residents.
Police Department Representation analysis
Commissioned police officers per 1,000 people in St. Louis City.
|All||White||Black||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Commissioned Officers per 1,000 People||3.8||5.6||2.6||2.128 to 1||40|
Data Source: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, 2016; American Community Survey 1-year estimates, 2016.
Data Note: This is a point-in-time count of officers used in the 2016 Annual Report of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Officers are hired and resign throughout the year, so this number will not exactly reflect the numbers for the police force at the time of reading. These numbers also do not reflect non-commissioned officers, such as police probationary officers (PPOs) and trainees. Population estimates are based on black and white residents that are non-Hispanic. To calculate the “other minority” representation rate, we used the 2016 American Community Survey 1-year estimate that St. Louis city is home to 30,627 residents of Hispanic, Native American and Asian descent.
What does this analysis mean?
White residents are more than twice as likely to be represented in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department as black residents. White residents are represented at a rate of 5.6 officers per 1,000 people, while black residents are represented at a rate of 2.6 officers per 1,000 people. There are 39 commissioned officers of other minority groups, including Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians, which represents a rate of 1.3 officers per 1,000 people.
If the police force, at its current staffing level, were to reflect the racial demographics of the City, there would be 185 more black officers and an additional 77 officers would be Hispanic, Native American, or Asian.
Why does Police Department Representation matter?
Research shows police departments that reflect the communities they serve are more likely to operate with trust, accountability, and cultural awareness. The Department of Justice has identified representative police departments as a key principle of good policing to avoid violence between police and citizens: “The department should have a ratio of employees of color and national origin that reflects the diversity of the community it serves.” Police reforms to build trust between communities and police officers are central to the Ferguson Commission report. However, it is important to note that while demographic representation might be necessary, it is not sufficient on its own to achieve community trust.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
Though there is not a specific Call to Action about police demographics, equitable staffing practices support the overall vision of a culturally competent, community-oriented, and trusted police department. Police reforms to build trust between communities and police officers are central to the Ferguson Commission report.
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there racial disparity in Police Department Representation?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Police Department Representation?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Police Department Representation?
How can I learn more about this issue?
The Ethical Society of Police issued a report in 2016 analyzing the representation of minority officers in leadership roles and in coveted assignments.