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

Mid-South

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) — 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.

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.

St. Louis County Crimes Against Persons Unit

“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.

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