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An analysis of goverment data on police department staffing nationwide indicates Evanston is a dramatic exception to a pattern that has police departments generally far “whiter” than the communities they serve.

The report, published today by the New York Times, is based on data from 2007, the most recent comprehensive figures available.

It indicates that in many communities white officers make up as much as 30 percent more of the police force than the white population of the municipality.

By contrast, in Evanston, the police force has only 1 percentage point more white officers than the share of whites in the city’s population — 61 percent of the police force is white, as are 62 percent of the city’s residents.

The percentage of black officers in Evanston, 30 percent of the total force, is substantially higher than the 18 percent of Evanston residents who identify as black.

The dramatic racial imbalance in police staffing in Ferguson, Mo., has been frequently cited as a factor in the unrest there after an unarmed black man was fatally shot recently by a white police officer.

The Times article indicates that many of the communities with the greatest racial imbalance in police staffing have recently seen dramatic increases in their minority populations.

Evanston, on the other hand, has long had a substantial black population.

While blacks are over-represented compared to their share of the population on the Evanston police force, the department does not have as strong representation of other minority groups, according to the 2007 data.

While 9 percent of Evanston’s residents are Hispanic, only 6 percent of the police officers are. And while 9 percent of the city’s residents are Asian, only 1 percent of the city’s 157 sworn police officers are Asian.

Only three Chicago area communities of the 49 included in the study had police forces that were less white that the town’s population. They were Kenilworth, East Dundee and Palos Park.

Chicago area communities where the percentage of white officers was at least 50 percent greater than the percentage of whites in the community included Blue Island, Cicero and Waukegan.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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