FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey said there are 164 authorized sworn positions in the department. Of those, one is African-American, and there are a number of Hispanic, Latino and Asian officers.
“Well, it's obvious that we are very, very short when it comes to African-American representation,” Lindsey said.
And while he said it is a problem, he also said the Fort Smith Police Department is not alone.
“This a nationwide issue,” he said. “There's articles out there in various magazines and professional magazines that restate that problem over and over again, especially with the African-American population, it’s difficult to do that."
Lindsey said at the beginning of this year he started taking steps to address the situation.
“We reached out to a lot of organizations that have black or African-American memberships, for instance the NAACP, a lot of the African-American pastors of churches in the area, to try to build up those relationships so that we can utilize them to assist us in identifying potential candidates,” Lindsey said.
In order for the demographics of the department to reflect that of the city -- which Lindsey said would be “ideal” -- the department would need at least 14 African-American officers.
He said he would like to see more minorities in the force across the board.
“I wanna increase our Hispanic, Latino representation, Asian representation, because the city, is indeed a melting pot,” he said.
When asked, Lindsey declined to comment specifically on a lawsuit that was filed by one of his officers regarding racial discrimination.