August 24, 2014
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced he would convene a two-day public workshop to discuss solutions to the challenge of low minority participation in Missouri’s urban law enforcement agencies. Koster plans a two-day event, tentatively scheduled for October 1 in St. Louis and October 2 in Kansas City, at venues to be announced in the coming days.
Koster said he would 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.
As highlighted yesterday in articles published in both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star, the Ferguson police department is approximately 7% African-American while the community it serves has an African-American population of nearly 70%. Similarly, the City of Grandview employs only one African-American police officer in a community that is 40% African-American.
"We are all searching for ways to increase respect and communication between law enforcement and the communities they protect," said Koster. "One way to achieve this is for police agencies to more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve."
"In order to achieve this goal, the law enforcement community should 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," said Koster. "This is one way the frustration expressed on the streets of Ferguson can bring positive change in the policing of our urban communities.”