Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to host a two-day public workshop this fall – in St. Louis and Kansas City – to probe ways to improve the minority makeup in both region’s law-enforcement agencies.
Koster’s announcement came over the weekend, amid newspaper articles in both cities that detailed how many suburban municipalities with majority minority populations have police departments that remain overwhelmingly white.
In Ferguson, which has be embroiled in unrest for weeks, the police department has only three minority officers – making up 7 percent of the force – while the city’s population is close to 70 percent minority.
Koster said he plans to “invite police chiefs, school administrators, students, community and neighborhood leaders, guidance counselors, and others, to offer input on the best ways to encourage greater minority participation in urban law enforcement careers.”
Koster said the two workshops will be held Oct. 1 in St. Louis and Oct. 2 in Kansas City. The locations and other details are still being worked out.
“We are all searching for ways to increase respect and communication between law enforcement and the communities they protect," said Koster, a Democrat who is running for governor in 2016. "One way to achieve this is for police agencies to more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve."
He suggested that one way would be for law-enforcement agencies to “reach out to young people by the tenth and eleventh grades. It is important to learn what challenges they face, show them role models in law enforcement, and open their eyes to how their participation in policing can benefit their own lives and the communities in which they live.”