The entirety of the Black police force in the Knoxville, Tennessee department has said it’s experienced some discrimination while on the job, NBC News reports. A consulting firm named 21CP Solutions conducted an extensive review that relied on a combination of focus groups and anonymous surveys for two weeks at the beginning of August.
All of the department’s 360 officers responded. In those assessments, only one-third of the 15 sworn Black officers felt supervisors were responsive to their feedback. 12 of the 15 thought they were explicitly discriminated against.
A significant point of contention is the promotion process. All of the Black officers feel as though promotions are not fairly given. The Knoxville department clearly lacks Black officers in leadership positions, with only nine female officers and one Black officer at the rank of sergeant or higher. Despite this, white male officers believed that minority officers receive preferential treatment in hiring, promotional, and assignment decisions.
From NBC News:
“If you are a Black officer, you have to work five times harder, and officers will always second-guess you,” one anonymous officer says in the report.
Another says, “When applying for posted positions and training, if more than one Black officer applied for a job that has multiple open slots, only one Black officer would get selected, and the other one would be told to wait until the next posting.”
Knoxville Police Department’s new chief, Paul Noel, who commissioned the report, told NBC News the independent report shows the police department has a lot of work to do.
“These are all things that people in the community and the police department anecdotally knew,” he said. “But this is the first time we had a jumping-off point to actually create change.”
Although this report is only a snapshot, the Knoxville police department has been dealing with racist rhetoric within its ranks for years. The Knoxville News Sentinel extensively reported about an extensive coverup of a white officer saying “he should know about being on a slave ship” and that reparations for “you all” (Black Americans) are “bulls—-.” to a fellow Black officer.