DES MOINES, Iowa -- When Richard Sanders was promoted to captain at the Des Moines Police Department, he made history. In 1991 he was the highest ranking African American police officer in Iowa, and the city's first ever black captain.
On Friday the Des Moines Police Department will honor Sanders with a certificate of appreciation. After spending 31 years on the force, Sanders retired in 1993.
Since retiring, the Des Moines Police Department has had just one other black captain. Today the department has more minorities than ever, but it still does not reflect the community's diversity. In Des Moines Latinos make up 12 percent of the population and African Americans make up 10 percent. However the percentage of Latinos and African Americans at the Des Moines police department is 3 percent.
Sanders says the department is doing everything it can, but change will take time. “Well I think it’s still that stigma of years ago that they just didn’t want a policemen or be a policeman you know,” Sanders.