(Times Free Press) - The number of minority officers in the Chattanooga Police Department is the highest it has been in at least five years, despite recent criticism from a local civil rights group.

"I think it's important for the African-American community and especially African-American kids to see people in a position of authority," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd, "to see people in a position in law enforcement -- someone they can identify and look up to and maybe look to for guidance if they are interested in coming into law enforcement."

As of this month, records show the department has a total of 81 black officers, or 18.8 percent of the total; 12 Hispanic officers, 2.8 percent; and five Native American officers, 1.2 percent. There are 334 white officers, or 77.3 percent, on the force.

But an official with the local NAACP said that, despite the increases in minorities on the force, more black officers are needed to more closely match Chattanooga's population.

Read more about this story from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.