MONTREAL -- Montreal's police force should reflect the diversity of the city's population, city administrators have said, but a recent report revealed that the force is a long way away from that goal.

About a third of Montrealers are visible minorities, but 85 per cent of the city's civil service and police force are white.

Only 8 per cent of police officers are from visible minorities -- and that number hasn't grown much since the last time the city took stock, five years ago.

"We do have a long way to go before Montreal civil service, and police force truly represents the cultural makeup of the city that they serve," said city councillor Alex Norris.

Activist and law student Balarama Holness blames the lack of minority police officers on systemic barriers.

"When it's homogenous, it speaks to the fact that there's still discrimination and systemic barriers in the hiring process," he said.

Police Chief Andre Durocher, however, said the force faces obstacles of its own when trying to hire more diverse officers.

"It's hard to catch up because, in some cultures, it's not necessarily welcome or well seen to be a police officer," he said. "Having worked with some groups of minorities myself, they said, 'you know what in my family it's not great news that I'm a police officer."