How white is the Kansas City Police Department?


"You're under arrest!"
  • "You're under arrest!"

Last week, The Kansas City Star published all of the seven mayoral candidates' plans to address violent crime. One of the hopefuls, attorney Sly James, voiced his opinion that the Kansas City Police Department needs more diversity on the force. It's not the first time we've heard that sentiment.

Which begs the question: How white is the KCPD, really? The answer: lily.

The KCPD Media Unit was kind enough to send us demographic data from December 2010 that divvies up all sworn KCPD officers by race and gender. Observe the male-cop graph:

The green Pac Man up there represents the 68

percent of KCPD officers who are white males. (In numbers, that's 971 white guys.) The purple sliver is the 8 percent of black male KCPD officers (116 black guys). There are 52 Hispanic men on the force, which is about 4 percent, and the rest, "Other," breaks down like this: Indian (.35

percent), Asian (6 percent), Pacific Islander (.14 percent), mixed race

(3.7 percent) and unknown* (1.4 percent).

The corresponding graph for female police officers is below:

There are 142 white female officers, just shy of 10 percent of sworn KCPD employees. There are 33 black female officers, or only 2 percent. Less than 1 percent (six) of the female officers are Hispanic.

You may have to squint, but you can imprecisely compare these two graphs (which are separated by gender, obviously) to this graph of the Census' projected data on the racial makeup of KCMO for 2009.


I majored in sociology. Statistics was hell. I can tell you this with certainty, though: There is more green (that is, white folk), in the KCPD's ranks than that which is reflected in KC's citizenry. Which we pretty much knew already. But now we have graphs! And making graphs is fun! 

*There are 20 male officers and five female officers who don't know what race they are -- or they prefer not to say.

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