NEW YORK (AP) — An equal blend of black and white thread, the gray uniform worn by the New York State Police stands for the impartiality of justice.
But this attire belies disparities within the agency, which for generations has failed to fill its ranks with troopers who reflect New York’s diverse population.
The agency remains overwhelmingly white — an imbalance some troopers say is rooted in a legacy of racism.
Of more than 4,700 troopers, only 4% are Black and 6% are Hispanic — paltry proportions compared to the 16% and 19% of the state population those groups constitute.
A half-dozen minority troopers told The Associated Press discrimination has flourished within the ranks, despite the agency having been ordered to diversify by a judge in the 1970s.
One Black former State Police investigator, Michael Marin, recalled a white colleague admonishing him in 2008 to “take the cotton you’ve been picking out your ears.”