Minority Police Officers: Diversity & Inclusion on the Illinois Police Force
Right now, in America, there is a divide between us. Tensions between police officers and the community have been on the rise. Law enforcement in America has faced accusations of racism and police brutality.
However, this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Many members of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police are also minority police officers.
In Chicago, three of the highest-ranking police officers are Black. In Illinois, our law enforcement is also members of your own community, as well as your neighbors. They aim to serve you and protect our community.
Diverse Representation in the Chicago Police Department
The Chicago Police department made history last month when it promoted 28-year old veteran Eric Carter to 1st Deputy Superintendent. The top three brass in the Chicago Police force is currently minorities. This is a historic milestone that was made in the 185-year history of the department. (A “brass” is a high-ranking member of law enforcement or military). Besides Eric, the other high-ranking officials are 20-year veteran Barbara West and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Barbara West also made history by becoming the CPD’s highest-ranking Black female police officer that it ever had.
“As African American leaders, we have this clear understanding of the issues, with race [being] the prominent discussion nationwide,” – Chicago Police Dept Superintendent, David Brown, 59 Minority Police Officers On The Chicago Police Force
Both the state of Illinois and The Chicago Police Department have made a lot of progress with having minority representation over the last 150 years. Here are some of the progressive milestones it has made in that timeframe:
- 1871 – The Chicago Police Department hired James L Shelton, the first African-American police officer on the force
- 1913 – CPD hired its first female police office
- 1918 – Chicago Police Department hired the first African-American female officer
- 1983 – The CPD’s first African-American Superintendent was Fred Rice
- 1992 – CPD hired its first Latino superintendent Matt Rodriguez.
- 2020 – Barbara West became the highest-ranking African-American female police officer in the Chicago Police Department
Spotlight on Superintendent Barbara West
Deputy Superintendent Barbara West has had a 26-year long career with the Chicago Police Department. Barbara was born and raised in the west side of Chicago in Garfield Park.
West started her career in 1994 in the 15th District on Chicago’s West Side as a PPO. When Barbara was on the force, there were very few minority officers, let alone female Black officers. Since becoming a superintendent, Barbara has brought her organizational leadership and operational experience to the newly created Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform.
“Back in the era when I was growing up, television was very influential and when you think about it, in that era, you didn’t see a lot of black females in policing, but there was a particular show that I saw that was called “Get Christy Love”.
It was a detective show. It was important to me because I saw that show and I wanted to be a detective. You don’t want to be something until you actually see it. That era was starting to show more black females in powerful roles and that was influential to me.”. – Interview with Superintendent Barbara West.
Spotlight on 1st Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter
This past July, the CPD promoted 28-year old Eric Carter to the first deputy superintendent. Previously, Carter had served as the chief of the bureau of counterterrorism and special operations.
Carter is a Missouri native who moved to Chicago with his mother after his parents separated. Eric Carter joined the Chicago Police Department at age 24 after serving in the US Marines. He has already taken on his role as a leader in the department as well as a leader in the minority community.
“We’ve got a good plan in place that will holistically help us address the current crime we’re seeing. We’re really working hard on the West and South sides because those are communities that need us most right now,” – 1st Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter Advocates & Role Models For The Community David Brown, Barbara West, and Eric Carter prove that being a police officer is more than wearing a uniform.
They are also advocating for their community. All three of them also identify with the disenfranchised youth who grew up in the south and west side neighborhoods of Chicago. Officer David Brown feels at home in those communities. Brown had grown up lower-income and was raised by his single mother and grandmother.
As advocates for their communities, they work with initiatives to develop jobs for at-risk age groups from 16-32. They also do a lot of rehabilitation and mentoring within the community. These three have shown that they are not just police officers. They genuinely care about their community.
Expanding Diversity in the Chicago Police Department & The State of Illinois
The Chicago Police Department embraces its minority officers within its ranks. As of 2018, only 23% of the police force were minorities. Even though the city of Chicago is one-third African-American, the police force doesn’t reflect that enough.
Chicago residents of all races and ethnicities are welcome to join the Chicago Police Department. Instead of inciting violence in your community, become an agent of change. Protect the city you care about – your family, home, and communities.
Superintendent Michael Brown announces retirements and staff promotions within the Chicago Police Department. He is ushering in the “next generation” of officers. This team will not be an “occupying force”. Rather, they will regularly perform community service in the same areas that they will ask to keep the peace.
About The Fraternal Order of Police
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), founded over 100 years ago in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is also the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country.
Additionally, the Illinois FOP is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing over 33,000 active duty and retired police officers – more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Are you a police officer in Illinois? Join more than 33,000 full-time, sworn-in law enforcement professionals who live or work in the state of Illinois. Become a Member of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.