MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A new investigation shows Long Island’s police departments remain overwhelmingly white despite federal oversight to diversify the ranks.
After decades of complaints that Long Island’s police departments, Nassau and Suffolk, do not mirror the communities they patrol, where nearly 40% of the population is minority, a startling Newsday investigation revealed over the last nine years, 6,539 Black applicants tried to become police officers on Long Island. Only 67 were hired — a colossal recruitment failure.READ MORE: Federal Arrest Warrant Issued For Gabby Petito's Missing Fiancé Brian Laundrie
Just 330 of Nassau’s 2,500 sworn officers are minorities.
“We need to break a lot of chains that have basically made policing something that becomes a detriment to the African-American and Hispanic communities. Black and brown people in Nassau and Suffolk County are suffering,” civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Under the Justice Department’s supervision, the 40-year effort to increase minority representation helped change Nassau and Suffolk police departments from 95% white to about 85% white.
Suffolk says it is immediately reviewing its process.
Nassau is creating a committee on police hiring. Bishop Lionel Harvey will lead the panel.READ MORE: 'I Can't Take This Anymore': Heavy Rain In Tri-State Area Renews Flooding Concerns For Many Still Dealing With Damage From Ida
“When people know better, they do better,” he said. “The key is getting more people of color in the police department.”
“It is never too late to do the right thing, so with this committee, we want to get real recommendations on how we can move forward,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
With changes in recruitment strategies, testing preparation, and academic and physical training.
“Something’s happening now that hasn’t happened prior, and that is action. That’s conversations, even if they are difficult and uncomfortable,” said Gabriela Castillo, a member of the police diversity committee.
Outsiders say wait and see.
“There is disproportionality and a lack of professionalism … simply based on zip codes and race,” said Sergio Argueta, a youth counselor with the nonprofit S.T.R.O.N.G.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 13 Injured In Shooting At Kroger In Collierville, Tennessee
The county executive wants fair and equitable changes in civil service exams before the next test.