Fighting Fire

More

In its profile of William Battle, the first black NYPD officer, the Times offers a comparison:


Today, blacks are 23 percent of the city's population, and 18 percent of all police officers. Black, Hispanic and Asian New Yorkers make up nearly 48 percent among all ranks, and among police officers they have been a majority since 2006. 

 Among higher-ranking officers, promoted on the basis of competitive civil service tests, minority officers constitute 39 percent of sergeants, up from 19 percent a decade ago; 25 percent of lieutenants, up from 13 percent; and 17 percent of captains, up from 5 percent. Of the 43 blacks who have passed the test for captain since then, nearly half have been promoted to higher ranks.

I was debating someone in comments a while back about the Times mixing stats. This is what I was talking about. It would be nice if they'd followed through on the black percentage of police officers up through the ranks.

But be that as it may, it seems like police departments have done a reasonably good job, in areas with diverse populations, of integrating. I've never understood why its been so much harder in the fire department:

In 1971, blacks constituted 32 percent of the city's population, but only 5 percent of the fire department. Almost four decades later, only 3.4 percent of the FDNY is black, and less than 7 percent is Latino. In a city with only a 35 percent white population, the FDNY is about 90 percent white... 

New York's fire department is also whiter than those in other cities. Of the fire departments in eight of the nation's largest cities, New York's is dead last in diversity.

It's not even so much that minorities are underrepresented in the FDNY as it is that they are almost invisible. 90 percent white is a really high number.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In