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Boston Police Department Struggles With Diversity

There's a new push to increase diversity in the Boston Police Department.

Minorities make up a majority of the population in Boston, but its police department has been struggling to keep up with the ongoing problem of hiring more officers of color.

"Approximately two-thirds of the police department is white and over 80 percent of the superior officers are white. That’s unacceptable," said Oren Sellstrom of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

Some say the key to building residents' trust is having a police department that reflects the makeup of the neighborhoods.

"When police departments look like the communities that they represent, they're less likely to be incidents like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri," said Sellstrom.

Total applications to become officers are down, with around 1,000 fewer than in previous years. Still, city leaders say they have been trying to recruit more minorities.

"With the Boston Police Department in some cases, the numbers have gone up," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "We created the Cadet Program.

But according to data obtained by NBC Boston, just one-third of the police department is either black, Latino, or another ethnicity.

"The political will isn't there so what we see is as the city becomes diverse the police force does not keep pace," said Sellstrom.

Critics say the city can do a better job at improving diversity by requiring that some applicants speak other languages.

"We're hopeful that the city will wake up and realize this is a public safety issue and will give it the attention it deserves," said Sellstrom.

"We’re working every day to get more diversity in our police department," Walsh said.

NBC Boston reached out to the Boston Police Department for comment but Police Commissioner Williams Evans was not yet available to comment due to traveling.

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