The racial breakdown at local police departments

HOUSTON -- The New York Times looked at major metropolitan areas around the country, including Houston, and what it found is most area's have police departments that don't fully reflect their population.

You see the real gaps in suburban areas in and around the big cities.

When Herbert Gilbert started on the City of South Houston Police force, he was different.

"I was the first black officer here," said Gilbert.

Then the city looked very different. It was about 60 percent white. Now there has been massive rapid change, the City of South Houston is now 88 percent Hispanic.

For police here the top hiring question has nothing to do with race.

"I want to hire the best candidate," said Gilbert.

In the City of Houston Police Department there are 26 percent more white officers than in the general population.

The most rapid change is in the suburbs, for example in the north in Humble, the police officers there are 82 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 5 percent black, 3 percent Asian, but the minority population in Humble is 66 percent.

The flip side to that is Bellaire where the police department is almost exactly the makeup of the community -- 72 percent white.

In the City of South Houston, officers are 72 percent White, 13 percent Hispanic, but 88 percent of the population is Hispanic.

The change has happened so fast there, Chief Gilbert is not sure what he could do different.

"In an illegal way I could have," said Gilbert. "As the chief I could have said no this is the way we are going to do it. I probably would not be sitting here today as a chief if I had done that."

Residents don't seem to mind.

"If the department is running the way it should, it should not matter -- white, black, Hispanic," said Christina Rosales. "Shouldn't matter."

If you look only at the big cities, the Houston Police are more diverse in comparison to the population than many areas. Officers are 52 percent white, 23 percent black and 22 percent Hispanic when 26 percent of the population is white.

In Chicago the police department is more than 50 percent white with equal number of Hispanic, black and white residents.

In Los Angeles there are significantly higher number of white police officers compared to the number of Hispanic and Asian residents.


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