When Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Anthony Wong told his parents he was going to be a police officer, they were not very happy. Wong's parents said they preferred a more prosperous career for their son, Wong said Thursday night in a speech to members of Students for Asian Affairs. But Wong persisted and entered the police force despite his parents' reservations in order to "serve the community." "[Being a police officer] provides the opportunity to prevent suffering," he said. "I also wanted to [reach out] to the Asian community. They don't always have the access they need to government agencies and services." Wong said that in many cases Asians do not report incidents of racial violence because they feel their concerns will not be heard. "Bias crimes occur all the time and are not reported," he said. "This is primarily due to a lack of sensitivity by the government that doesn't respond [to their needs]." Wong added that language barriers may also cause misunderstandings between police and the Asian community. He said that as a result, he encourages more Asians to enter fields such as policing, in which their services are needed to reach these communities. Wong added, however, that there are very few Asian police officers. "There is a cultural bias toward policing," he said. "[Police work] may not provide the upward mobility or financial rewards that being a doctor or lawyer might." Wong also spoke on the changing demographics of Philadelphia and the surrounding area, attributing racial tensions in the inner city to a rapid growth of Asian immigrants over the past few years. Wong cited a 1990 census that showed a 125 percent increase in the Asian population since 1982. He added that the increase is significant, even though Asians still only account for 2.7 percent of the Philadelphia population. He added that most of these Asian-Americans and Asian immigrants are living in the inner cities, which causes some friction with the black and Hispanic communities. "[The tensions] within the inner city have to do with limited housing and job opportunities," he said. "There are also mutual misunderstandings and [the use of] cultural stereotypes. That's both the stereotypes that Asians have about other minority communities and the stereotypes other minority groups have about Asians." College junior Chia Chan asked Wong about whether police officers target Asians on the basis of race. Wong said he does not think police officers "go after Asians because they're Asians," but added that it depends on the intentions of the officer. "Police officers may overstep their boundaries," he said. "Sometimes an overzealous officer may perform an act out of ignorance in the hopes of having a positive effect. In other cases, some [officers] may have acted deliberately and maliciously." After the speech and discussion, most students who attended said they found Wong's speech interesting. College sophomore Mark Oda said he was surprised with the broad range of topics discussed. Oda, who is also the director of SAA's prominent speakers committee, said that SAA plans other speakers like Wong in the future.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.