BIG BLUE—Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Assistant Chief and past NOBLE President Maurita Bryant welcomes more than 1,000 delegates to the organization’s 37th Annual Convention in Pittsburgh. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
As more than 1,000 representatives were winding up their meetings for the National Organization Of Black Law Enforcement Executives 37th Annual Convention, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police promoted four of its officers, three to the rank of sergeant and one to Lieutenant. All were White males.
The irony was not lost on Pittsburgh police Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant, who welcomed the conventioneers as NOBLE National President.
“Yes, I noticed that. But those officers were in line for promotion,” she said. “You can’t take that away from them. But our hope is that more minority officers look seriously at taking promotional tests. That’s why one of the main themes of the convention was recruitment and promotion of minority officers.”
Bryant said, in her experience there are many Black officers who are content to stay in the rank and file.
“Sometimes people don’t want to take on the added responsibility,” she said. “They don’t see that it’s worth it.”
Bryant said nationally, Black police executive numbers are increasing after a drop in recent years. But Pittsburgh does not follow that trend. Retirements and lower enrollment numbers have left the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police with one Black assistant chief and three Black zone commanders.
“Our numbers have been low compared to other cities, and there are different reasons for that, one is more African-Americans have to apply and take the test,” she said. “The public has a role too. Sure you can complain about the lack of Black officers, but what are you doing to encourage change? Do you encourage your child to look at policing as a profession? I don’t see a lot of that.”
Outreach to create that encouragement is part of what NOBLE is plans to do more of. Bryant said members should be more involved with their internal departmental recruitment.
“Our members have to be more involved in the promotional process and in the recruitment process,” she said. “We need to work with personnel departments. We should be looking at their efforts and lending our advice and recommendations.”
As for the convention itself, Bryant said she couldn’t be prouder to have hosted the event.
“I’ve wanted to do this since going to my first convention in Florida in 1998. It was one of those goals you set for yourself, so I’ve been looking forward to this a long time,” she said. “Everyone worked very hard to make it happen. It’s rewarding to have achieved that goal. Our guest enjoyed themselves, and I know they spent a lot of money.”