Chief constables in England and Wales are to discuss whether to boost the recruitment of black and Asian officers by affirmative action
The Association of Chief Police Officers will debate the move, which would need employment law changes.
Under the plan, women would also get priority in order to boost numbers.
However, critics branded the idea "reverse discrimination" and suggested that the police should make itself more attractive to ethnic minorities.
Acpo says raising the 3.7% of officers from ethnic minorities to the Home Office's 7% target by 2009 cannot be done without changing policy.
However, a change to employment law is not favoured by the Home Office.
Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire, who speaks for Acpo on race and diversity, is calling for a debate on amending the law.
Under the changes being considered, black and Asian recruits with the necessary qualifications would be fast-tracked, to meet quotas set by each force.
According to Acpo, the plans would represent "affirmative action", which it defines as the process of prioritising minorities once they have passed initial selection procedures.
Under such a plan, if two job candidates met the required standards, the candidate whose ethnicity is under-represented in the force would be selected.
Acpo says this differs from "positive discrimination", which it says means hiring minorities regardless of whether they are qualified for a job.
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the Home Office had indicated it would prefer to work within existing laws to increase the numbers from ethnic minorities applying to join the police.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said recruitment from ethnic minorities in his force was close to 20% but he admitted the Met would not reach the 2009 target of 25% black & Asian officers in the workforce.
He said: "The only way to achieve it would be to sack white male officers."
Police chiefs deny discussing positive discrimination but admit to talking about talks
Quotas considered for black and Asian officers
OUR PC POLICE FORCE