Diversity concerns raised over photo celebrating St. Louis County police unit


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – John Bowman, president of the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP, said his phone started ringing Thursday afternoon with community members raising concerns about a photo shared by the St. Louis County Police Department on social media earlier in the day.

The photo showed members of the department’s Crimes Against Persons Unit and credited them for achieving a 94 percent clearance for homicide cases in 2019.

The photo showed members of the Crimes Against Persons Unit and credited them for achieving a 94% clearance for homicide cases in 2019. Bowman expressed concern the photo was not reflective of the diversity of the community the department serves. In addition to homicides, the unit investigates robberies, abuse, and sexual assault cases.

“If there was ever a case of a picture representing a thousand words, those are definitely the wrong thousand words to represent,” Bowman said.

A department spokesperson said the photo did not show all the members of the unit and added the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Unit is working to address those concerns. There are also typically not large numbers of officers applying for positions with the unit due to the unit’s unpredictable work hours, according to the spokesperson.

Bowman said diversity concerns have been raised with department leaders for years. He calls the posting of the photo indefensible.

“It speaks volumes to the fact they are lacking in diversity,” he said. “The Black community has a distrust for the police department already.”

Bowman insists the department could do more to recruit minorities and adjust testing methods to create a more diverse department. He plans to contact the St. Louis County Police Department Friday to voice concerns.

A representative for one of the detectives pictured provided a statement.

I have been involved in literally hundreds of homicides in the past 9 years…the victim’s family has never cared that I’m white, black, green or blue. They are broken and want justice for their child, parent, or sibling – they don’t care about anything else. 
That clearance rate is a result of 2 things…collective work ethic by all and COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT. If they didn’t trust us our clearance rate would be on par with the city.
Everyone desires diversity. But at some point merit has to count for something.
I think we should be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.

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