Asian Americans make up just 2% of law enforcement in the U.S, according to Axios. After recent media coverage of racism and violence against Asian Americans, some agencies face criticism for their lack of diversity.
A 2016 report related by Axios found that in Seattle and New York, 7% and 8% of police officers were Asian, respectively, compared to 14% and 12% of the city’s population demographic. In San Francisco, despite aggressive recruiting, Asian Americans make up only 23% of the police force despite representing a third of the city’s population.
Some are worried that a lack of Asian Americans on staff has led to less adequate investigation and reporting of hate crimes against Asians. The same people also hypothesize that a lack of representation in law enforcement will hurt police engagement with the Asian community.
Experts from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate crimes have jumped nearly 150%, but that shortages of Asian American officers will impact their engagement with Asian communities and impede law enforcement’s efforts to address these crimes.
NYPD Captain Jackson Cheng said “it only makes sense” that officers reflect the communities they serve. Some police departments are now launching campaigns to recruit and retain Asian American cadets and are dealing with efforts to rectify racial injustices after settling a series of lawsuits. The San Gabriel Police Department recently settled a 2017 lawsuit alleging that other officers often used racial slurs or disparaging language about Asians.