Wilmington City Council narrowly delays police academy again, citing diversity concerns
Some members of Wilmington City Council are continuing to take a stand as they request a plan from the Wilmington Police Department to attract more officers of color.
City Council voted narrowly last week to delay for a second time a resolution calling for the commencement of a Wilmington Police Department (WPD) academy class.
1st District Councilwoman Linda Gray says some council members want a more diverse police force.
“We've been asking that [WPD] try different ways to bring in more black and brown people to the police force— and we haven’t received that,” she said. “We’re not trying to force inequity or hiring of people that aren’t qualified, but just have some type of plan that we think will reach out to those communities.”
Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy says he is not worried by Council’s refusal to pass the resolution, as the Department has not yet fallen below 95 percent authorized strength, at which point city code directs the WPD to draft the resolution calling for the commencement of the academy class.
Tracy told council members after they delayed the resolution for the first time last month that his police force is roughly 25 percent African-American, ten percent Hispanic and 15 percent female.
He acknowledged that does not reflect the demographics of the City—which is close to 60 percent African-American— but said WPD does work to recruit minority candidates. According to the police department, roughly one third of the most recent police academy class consisted of minority cadets.
“It’s not great numbers, it’s not overwhelming numbers, but it’s certainly progress as far as trying to change the diversity of the department, where you have to work with attrition,” Tracy said at a committee meeting last month.
Tracy says he plans to meet with Council again in January to discuss the matter.