WCVB 5, August 2020
Police departments in some of Massachusetts’ most diverse cities are still struggling to diversify their own ranks, especially at higher levels, according to data obtained by 5 Investigates. In many Massachusetts cities, that means mostly white police departments are enforcing laws in mostly minority communities. To Christelle Jean, a 16-year-old student activist in Malden, not seeing police officers who look like her and many of her friends is part of the mistrust of police she said is widespread among young people in Malden.
“When you don’t see anyone who looks like you, who’s fighting for you, then you assume that there’s an authoritative figure who’s hovering over you and has no intention of pushing through whatever you need,” she said. “I know from me and my classmates that whenever there’s a police presence, it’s not a sign of someone’s here to help me.” Jean has helped organize a Black Lives Matter rally and a rally for more diversity in the school department. She said her goal is to have more Black and brown voices in positions of power, including the police.
The department is 81 percent white, according to records provided to 5 Investigates, compared to the city, which is 47 percent white, according to census data.