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Houston Community Activist: Only Black Police Officers Should Patrol Black Neighborhoods

Robert Muhammad says it would lower the number of deadly police shootings of African Americans.

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A Houston community activist says only black police officers should patrol black neighborhoods.

Robert Muhammad, a student minister with the Nation of Islam, first made the comments last week after the shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.

He tells Houston Matters that sensitivity training is not enough to improve trust between police and the black community.

"For me it would be best that I have people that understand our folkways, our mores, our norms, our values, our attitudes, our history and share a common context with us," he said.

Muhammad points to a study by Columbia and Yale universities that found that fewer black civilians are killed by officers in cities with a diverse police force.

A spokesperson for the Houston Police Department declined to comment.

Ray Hunt, the president of the Houston Police Officers Union, does not agree with the idea. He said suggesting that officers police an area differently based on their skin color is outrageous.

"Anybody who has special skills for a group of people, sure, we're going to utilize those people in (those) areas," Hunt said. "But we're not going to segregate them based simply on their race."

HPD is majority minority. In 2014, 47 percent of officers were white and 22 percent were black.

Last year, Houston police killed 12 people, at least half of them African Americans. In most cases, they were engaging in criminal activity and had weapons, according to HPD's database.

 

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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