Should police departments be more diverse? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Should police departments be more diverse?

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Some say the thin blue line is a little too white, but one Heartland police chief says diversity is a challenge.

Should police departments nationwide be more diverse?

A lot of people would say yes.

Caruthersville Police Chief Tony Jones said it's not for a lack of trying, but he rarely sees an applicant who isn't white.

On a force of 17 officers, he is one of just two African-Americans.

This in a city where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of the population is black.

Chief Jones said he doesn't know if it's the financial burden of the police academy or simply disinterest.

But he does feel the role of police officers is often misunderstood.

Chief Jones dreamed of making a career in law enforcement.

He talked about another young African-American man who expressed that same dream, but instead was met with ridicule by his friends and family.

"He rode with me for several days," Chief Jones said. "See what the job consists of. And when friends and family saw he was riding with the police department he was called a snitch, or saying he was a sell-out, or Uncle Tom. And the kid was no longer interested in it anymore."

Chief Jones recommends going for a ride along to anyone interested in police work or who just want a better understanding of what officers do.

He said they often take home the difficult cases they've worked.

Chief Jones is the first African-American police chief in Caruthersville.

He said he's not proud of the job because of his race, but rather because he loves the community.

He's held that elected position since 2011.

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