Los Angeles Police Department

Black police recruit hopes to shatter perceptions

Renata Phillip was 11 years into a satisfying teaching career when she shocked her friends and family last August by deciding to make a drastic career change: become a police officer.

Her decision came amid growing concern over police tactics in the wake of a number of deaths at the hands of officers of unarmed black men across the country. Most recently, the fatal police shooting of a black man who had a gun in his hand sparked violent unrest in Milwaukee.

Phillip, a black woman who grew up in a mostly white, upper middle class neighborhood 30 miles east of Los Angeles, said she wasn't motivated by race. But race is a motivation now as she completes her training to become a...