Newark Police increase diversity with latest graduating class

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Recently Newark Mayor Ras Baraka swore in about 100 officers from eight different police departments.

Newark’s public safety director says women make up one-fifth of the Newark Police Division,and Latinos and African Americans make up three-quarters. Of the 125th graduating class, some 48 graduates just last week from the police academy, women make up 31 of the 48. Latinos and African Americans make up 46 of the 48.

The mayor says that’s important in a mostly brown and black city with a police department that has a documented history of constitutional violations.

Reform advocates applaud the diversity of the graduating class, but say minority officers have been found to trample constitutional rights just like non-minorities.

Newark Police Division Capt. Ivonne Roman co-founded the Women’s Leadership Academy. Roman says five decades ago the Kerner Commission and more recently an Obama-era commission said hiring more women and minority officers could ease tensions. The captain cited research and her own experience.

If you increase the number of women in policing, you decrease the number of complaints, you decrease the number of lawsuits, you decrease the number of use of force, you decrease the allegations of excessive force,” said Roman.