Increasing the number of Blacks and minorities in law enforcement will be one of the priorities of the newly elected president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, along with preparing for the national convention to be held in Pittsburgh.
With more than 32 years in the criminal intelligence community before his retirement, Greg Rogers brings unique experience to the organization.
Rogers is the chair of the department of criminal justice and intelligence studies at Point Park University. He began his career in special operations in Indochina during the Vietnam War in 1968 and since that time has also served in the Office of Protective Services, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Customs Service and was a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security.
During his time with NOBLE, Rogers plans to continue outreach efforts to increase the number of Blacks and minorities in law enforcement. One of the initiatives he is working on would allow African-Americans to shadow and be mentored by law enforcement officials.
“I think the police force should reflect the community it serves,” Rogers said. “We fought very much to have equality and when equality came we forgot to look back. So we have to stay focused.”
Rogers said some African-Americans are dissuaded from joining the police force because it isn’t an especially lucrative career. He also said local police forces might not be focused on recruiting minority applicants because they already have a very large pool of applicants to choose from.
“I don’t think it’s conscious but look at the new classes that are graduating from the sheriff’s office, the county, and the city,” Rogers said. “They say they can’t find people who are qualified. I have classrooms full of qualified minorities. I think they don’t have targeted recruiting. It’s not about a quota system, but we should have enough numbers to reflect the community.”
Due to dwindling diversity on the Pittsburgh police force and recent incidents of alleged police brutality, tensions are rising between the public and law enforcement officials in Pittsburgh. While Rogers is still relatively new to the Pittsburgh area, having joined the Point Park faculty in 2005, he said racial bias is pervasive among law enforcement in all areas of the country.
“It’s hard though because people don’t perceive themselves as racist. Even when I was a Black agent, the theory was that if you’re a Black or a minority, you’re a criminal,” Rogers said. “I have been stopped by police in this city for no reason at all. I understand why they did it; they shouldn’t have done it. Possibly their past has predicted that they should have to do it. How do you change from that? You (police) follow the law.”
Rogers replaced former NOBLE president Maurita Bryant, assistant chief of operations for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, who was recently appointed as president of the national NOBLE organization.
Now, both Rogers and Bryant are preparing for the 37th Annual NOBLE convention to be held in Pittsburgh in 2013. The event is expected to draw 2000 police officers from around the country to the city.
“We’ll meet each other and see what the problems are in other areas of the country. We’ll talk about handling different situations in different communities,” Rogers said. “I would like to have more individuals join (NOBLE) because the more diversity we have the more we can put forth into these discussions.”
NOBLE was founded around relevant issues such as fairness in the administration of justice, police community relations, the hiring and promotion of Black police officers, and the unique problems of the Black police executive.