By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
From a 20-years-plus black officer: "Any time a person of color goes to a specialized job--robbery, homicide, child abuse, family violence, the academy--we get a barrage of reverse discrimination grievances from white officers filed saying you've transferred someone who is unqualified," says Sergeant Thomas Glover, who teaches diversity to new recruits. "Even if a unit is majority white, if a minority is selected, they'll say, 'Oh, someone unqualified was selected.' So, under Chief Bolton and under Chief Click, command-level officers made decisions on appointments and transfers to achieve the diversity they had to make. Now, Chief Kunkle comes in and the first thing I hear him address is the transfer policy. That tells me he's listening to the wrong people, because that's been a sore spot for Anglo officers.
"Chief Kunkle has to be very careful he doesn't fall into those traps that are set by certain people who could not care less about making the department a place of diversity," he says. "So I think his greatest duty is to not offset that effort. Because he will upset people. They may call for his resignation simply because he does things to diversify the police department."
Kunkle knows how important transfers and promotions are to officers. He knows some of the promotion lists from which he's working are three years old. (Many officers wanted him to get rid of the last list and institute a new round of testing. They allege that part of the testing was unfairly skewed toward minorities.) He knows that many white officers disparage those lists because they're based on two kinds of tests, a written exam and more subjective interviewing by independent assessment centers--derisively called "the racial equalization board" by white officers who believe the centers give minorities better scores to make up for their supposedly poorer written scores. He knows that white officers feel this way even though Thomas Glover has three times scored very highly on the written portion of the lieutenant test--scoring 15th out of 150 in 1996 and fourth overall three years ago--and each time had his score dropped by "the racial equalization board" to a level where he missed being promoted. He knows facts that don't fit the stereotypes of any racial group get dismissed.
"I'm very well aware of the history of race in this department. And I'm aware of the history going back over 32 years, and I know how these frustrations have developed," Kunkle says. "But it's complicated. A lot of what we're talking about are zero-sum games. You know, 'I get it, you don't,' and vice versa. 'I'll never accept the fact that you're more deserving than I am, so if you get it [promotion, transfer, etc.], it's due to inequity or lack of fairness.' And then they inject the issue of race.
"The good news is we have talented people of every race and gender in all ranks. When I named my deputy chiefs, there were another 10 [minority or female] lieutenants who could have made it. So I think we're well-positioned to have people to promote of all races and genders."
There is ample reason to believe that Kunkle should continue to increase diversity in DPD. Although the command staff is still very diverse (seven whites, seven blacks, six Hispanics, one Asian), the rest of the department is only about one-third minority. This in a majority-minority city. This after more than a decade of intense pressure to diversify.
Kunkle's past suggests he can succeed in diversifying the ranks without sacrificing qualifications. The problem is that the very thing that makes one believe he can do so, his experience and record in Arlington as police chief, is a legacy to which officers of all colors turn a deaf ear.
No one disputes this. Certainly not the white officers who filed an EEOC complaint against Kunkle for reverse discrimination. Not the current Arlington chief, Theron Bowman, the black man who followed Kunkle and credits him with making his advancement possible.
Kunkle achieved much of the diversity by putting tremendous emphasis on recruiting qualified minority officers. There were no quotas, and no exceptions were made to get more people of color in the force. That doesn't mean he wasn't creative. For example, when he needed a sergeant's slot to open up so that Bowman could make that rank--crucial if he were to get the middle management experience necessary for higher positions--he persuaded an officer near retirement to leave early, opening up the needed slot. Any time he saw opportunities to put qualified minorities in place, he worked doggedly within the rules to do so.
All of which is good. Except officers are already saying they don't want to hear it. They liken it to the boss who comes to Company You from a smaller competitor and tells you every day how they did it at Company Them.