18 july 1968 metropolitan police department recruits teenagers
#OTD 18 July 1968 The Metropolitan Police Department Recruitment Bureau at the Municipal Center (300 Indiana Ave NW) was actively recruiting male teens to join the police force. There was a push from within the department, from city officials and from activist organizations to weaken the overrepresentation of white male police officers. In 1968, there were ~2,200 police officers and more than 75% of them were white men. And most of them lived outside of the city.
The call for more police officers had two main prongs. First, it was believed that reducing the overrepresentation of white male police officers would end the rampant racism and white supremacy within the department that resulted in brutality, death and terror. Second, the overrepresentation of white male police officers meant that they had a monopoly on"good government jobs." Recruitment proponents wanted young men to also have access to careers with advancement potential, respectable salaries and good benefits.
On 15 June the National Capital Area Civil Liberties Union convened a one-day panel, "Police Practices in the District of Columbia." One of the workshops was titled "The Negro Police Officer." The questions explored in the workshop were:
1. Why does he comprise less than 25% of the D.C. Police Force?
2. Do the recruitment practices discourage Negro applicants?
3. Is he discriminated against in promotions, assignments and discipline?
4. Is there a need for a Negro Police Association?
5. Should policemen be required to live in the District?
The panelists included John V. Long, attorney; Julius Hobson, Associated Communities Team (ACT) chairperson; H. Carl Moultrie, DC NAACP President; and Burdette Hockaday, Chair, Police Chiefs Commission to Study Promotion Procedures.
There was also an overrepresentation of white men heading the police department. Both Police Chief John Layton and Director of Public Safety Patrick Murphy were white.
Your comments are welcome below. Were you, family members and neighbors recruited by the police? Do you remember seeing the recruitment mobile trailers or the signs announcing civil service exams? Did you become a police officer in 1968? Did you know Rosiland Parker? Did you experience or witness police abuse? Were you in support of weakening the overrepresentation of white male police officers? Did you think that all police officers should reside in the city? Do you think that having black police officers lessened terror and brutality in the police department? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy Library of Congress, U.S. News & World Report 28 June 1968. Photographer, WKL.
James Forman, Jr. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, 2017. Forman argues that adding black male police officers to an overrepresented white male police force did not weaken or lessen brutality and terror. He argues that real change happens by understanding the police as an instrument of state violence, with a true and full commitment to justice and a simultaneous approach of love and compassion for all individuals who have been arrested and/or jailed.
National Negro Congress. Stop Police Brutality! Washington's Record of Official Murder and Abuse: An Account of Urban Lynching. 1938.
"Shootings by DC Police Spark Fight Against Police Brutality," Washington Area Spark site. Excellent article chronicling organizing against police brutality beginning in the mid-1930s.
The DC NAACP, headed by Carl H. Moultrie, released a report in 1957 about police brutality.