Is the racial makeup of the Ferguson police affecting its relationship with residents?

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 6:49 PM

 (KMOV.com) – Some believe the relationship between Ferguson police and residents might improve if the makeup of the force was more diverse.

Even though the population of Ferguson is overwhelmingly African American, only three of the 53 officers on the force are African American.

“Diversity is one of those things we’ve been trying to do since I’ve been with the department,” said Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.

Jackson said he has been recruiting officers from minority backgrounds and has also been offering better pay. Jackson said the department has lost some minority officers because of better offers from other departments.

“Its an issue that’s come up alongside the tragedy that happened Saturday,” Jackson said.

Pastor Spencer Llamar Booker of the St. Paul AME Church met with Jackson Tuesday.

“An officer that is sworn to protect and serve, whether white or black, must be accountable for their actions,” Booker said.

Both men told News 4 they believe a more diverse police force would improve relations between police and the community.

“It’s going to take a while, but with commitment from Chief Jackson and his family, the police officers of this community, it can happen,” Booker said.

Jackson told News 4 he is reaching out to young people and connecting with local high schools. Jackson said he wants to give teenagers interested in law enforcement an opportunity to be mentored and guided through the police academy.

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