I was reading Obama's farewell interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic. I'm not able to understand this particular quote of his:
You know, I always talk about when I was doing civil-rights law and people would talk about the dearth of African Americans in police departments and fire departments around the country. And they would say, ‘Well, this should be a meritocracy, and everybody needs to take a test, and that’s objective, and anything else is affirmative action and unfair.’ And I’m thinking, Well, when Officer O’Malley or Officer Krupke was walking the beat, nobody said it was a meritocracy then. What happened? We’re suddenly now of the notion that somebody who’s a police officer or firefighter having some affinity and familiarity with the community they are serving is completely out of bounds. What changed?
What exactly does he mean here ? A preliminary Google search, leads to these two being fictional characters. Is it some American political phrase that I'm unfamiliar with ?
FWIW, I'm from India, but follow politics around the globe including the US, and can pick the context in most of the cases, but this one got me stumped.