Activists decry lack of diversity among police recruits

BRENTWOOD - Civil rights activists are calling on Suffolk County officials to explain why none of the 60 new police recruits who were sworn in Monday were African-American.

The Suffolk County Police Department has been under scrutiny for its treatment of minority communities and its lack of diversity on the police force.

"If you're going to do community policing, then the guys walking the beat have to look like the people who live in the community," says Pastor Roderick Pearson, of the Islip NAACP.

According to the police department, 26,000 people took the police exam in 2007, of which 869 were allowed to start the process of becoming an officer. Out of the 108 people who were deemed eligible for hire, only one was African-American.

The NAACP says it's hoping to work with incoming County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Suffolk) to help bring more diversity to the police force.

In a statement, Bellone said he is "committed to community policing and wants to work toward having a force that is reflective of our county's diversity."

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