(WSVN) – Calls to reform police departments are growing louder across the country, and the pressure is on for them to racially reflect the communities they serve, so how do they stack up in South Florida? The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
Thousands have taken to the streets…
Terence Julius, protester: “I don’t want to see nobody else who looks like me, or anybody else get killed, for having a breath in their body.”
They’re demanding a reshaping of America’s police departments.
Sara Badoada, protester: “I feel like this is such a deep-rooted problem that we have in our society that just one week of protesting isn’t enough.”
So what would it take to make serious long term changes?
Police experts say it starts with who is doing the policing.
Robert Pusins, law enforcement expert: “Ideally, all of our law enforcement agencies should reflect the makeup of the community they police.”
But after we requested the racial makeup of several police departments, we found that’s not always the case.
The residents of Miami Gardens are predominantly Black, 72%, yet only 51% of the city’s officers are Black.
The Miami and Miami-Dade Police departments better reflect their communities.
The City of Miami is 18% Black with Black officers making up 25% of the force.
Miami-Dade County is also 18% Black, and 22% of the Miami-Dade Police force is Black.
Robert Pusins: “When the makeup of the agency reflects the makeup of the community, community members have more confidence in the agencies that they are just.”
But the numbers are not so balanced in Broward County.
Thirty percent of Broward residents are Black, though only 17% of BSO deputies, who patrol large parts of that county, are Black.
In Fort Lauderdale, Blacks make up 31% of the population, but the police force is only 15% Black.
In Lauderhill, the gap is even wider.
A gap Chief Constance Stanley is trying to close.
Chief Constance Stanley, Lauderhill Police: “I recruit myself. Every time I see someone out, I take the opportunity to say — if there’s a security guard or whatever it may be — ‘Aare you interested in being a police officer?’”
No one knows how important it is to have Black officers more than Chief Stanley.
Her department is only 36% Black compared to 78% of the city, but finding minorities who want to serve isn’t always easy.
Chief Constance Stanley: “One of my reasons that I chose this profession was because of the mistreatment against me and my family members by police officers, so if you want to be a change agent, this is an opportunity to do it.”
One young man wants to be part of the change.
Twenty-year-old Franz Dorcin is about to graduate from Miami-Dade College’s law enforcement academy.
Franz Dorcin, police cadet: “I see what is going on out there, but I try not to dwell on it because I remind myself I’m in this profession because I want to do good, and I want to help people.”
As a young Black cadet, Franz could help a South Florida police department struggling to reflect the community it serves.
Franz Dorcin: “I just want to end up somewhere where I can make an impact and do my job the right way, and basically, be part of the solution.”
A solution that will take time, but also real leadership, from South Florida police departments.
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