Reasons for racial demographic difference between police and army ?

This chart gives the racial demographics of the US army:

This chart gives the police demographics for race :

What are some of the factors to account for the disparity between the two ?


One is that the Police force is a traditional white (even Irish) job, father to son, etc.

Next, joining the Army is a well known way of escaping the Ghetto, along with professional sports and music.

You didnt list the Navy or Air force, I spuect they’d be much “whiter”.

I am sure there are others, of course.

The army has great marketing. TV commercials, radio commercials, billboards. Army recruiters court high school students. Video games and movies demystify and glamorize warfare.

Police don’t have any of this going for them.

The US armed forces will take anyone who is reasonably healthy, not insane, passed a basic aptitude test, and graduated from high school - and if you can do your service well enough for a good discharge, you can then go to college at an enormous discount. Economically speaking, it’s hugely appealing to someone who might lack other good job or education prospects coming out of high school.

The police force doesn’t have those economic benefits; it takes at least a community college course to get hired, and there’s no cop GI bill.

Actually they’ve been less or more selective as they need to be in order to achieve their recruiting goals. When they need people, they relax, but when they don’t, they tighten up. So it’s not so much “be able to walk and chew gum, and be healthy” necessarily.
That said, I think that the main difference is the way the police are perceived vs. the Army. Being in the Army means that you’re perceived as defending us all, and generally doing something honorable. Plus, the military has a better than average record of being color blind- there are plenty of black flag officers, officers and NCOs in all branches- the next USAF Chief of Staff is a black man, as is the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. And the military has been at this for a while; Benjamin Davis was the first black General in the Army… in 1940. And the military as a whole integrated in the early 1950s, ahead of society in general.

I suspect within the black community, being a cop isn’t necessarily seen in the same light. I can’t imagine it would be- if anything, I’d think it’s either seen that way by a small minority of the community that’s middle-class and more “white” oriented, or all black cops are seen as Uncle Tom types who are working with the oppressors.

I’m not black, but I wonder if among black people there is a stronger cultural stigma against the police than the military.

The military fought for black people’s freedom in the civil war and generally isn’t used as a tool to oppress people domestically (the occasional strike breakers notwithstanding). ’

By comparison the police historically have always been a tool to oppress and isolate black people. its really only recently (the last few decades) that that started to change on that front, for most of black peoples time here in the US the job of the police was to keep them enslaved or keep them in the ghetto.

Plus it seems blacks have served in the military longer in America. I don’t know if blacks were common in the military before the civil war, but in the civil war they were about 10% of northern soldiers, which is roughly on par with their % of the public in general at 10% or so. However blacks were mostly excluded from the police until the 1960s or so.

My brother served in the army during the Gulf War. My parents (especially my mother) were a bit disappointed that he had made this choice, but they supported it. He left the army after his two-year stint and became an electrician. He hated being in the army.

In the 2000s, he had a girlfriend who pressured him to become a cop like her. So he became a cop, working for a city right out the outskirts of Atlanta. I don’t know how my parents felt about it, but again, the family supported him. I don’t think he lasted a full year. He hated it.

I guess my point is this: If you enlist and you wind up hating it, then you have no choice but to grin and bear it. It’s not supposed to be work that you love anyway. But being a police officer is a job. If you hate any job enough, it is acceptable to quit and find something else. No one is going to call you an unpatriotic coward or wonder if you got dishonorably discharged. They’ll understand that it just wasn’t a good fit.

I haven’t talked to my brother about why he quit the police force, but I suspect he didn’t like it because it required him to be “tough guy” in his own community–and everyone who knows him knows he’s not that kind of guy. You can play that role when you’re on the other side of the world and no one will know that it’s just an act. But it’s harder to do that when you’re around people who know you from way back when.

Also, while he’s not the most political person in the world, I suspect it was really hard for him to arrest folks for bullshit. Why would it be easier for a white guy to arrest folks for bullshit? I think white folks are less likely to see all the bullshit embedded in laws. Black folks know there are unjust laws on the books because hello, slavery and Jim Crow were legal for centuries. So arresting some dude for something like having half an ounce of weed probably gave my bro some indigestion.