The Obama administration is calling on local police departments to hire and keep more non-white officers. Released today, the Department of Justice said in its report entitled “Advancing Diversity In Law Enforcement
,” that the approximately 18,000 police departments in the United States must not ignore racial identity of their officers and the communities where they serve.
In the foreword to the document, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Vanita Gupta wrote that in response to President Obama’s establishment of a “Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” which called for the “best means” of reducing crime and establishing community trust, the Task Force is calling for an increase in the “diversity of the nation’s law enforcement agencies as an important aspect in developing that trust.” It is thus that her office is launching “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement,” which was described in a release as an interagency research initiative designed to help our nation’s law enforcement agencies “recruit, hire,retain, and promote officers that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.”
In the summary, the authors declare that their focus is on the “Tragic events over the past several years – including officer-involved shootings and attacks” on police, and on the “demonstrations and protests these incidents have spawned.” “Diversity” is the key to resolving differences between local communities and police departments, declared the report.
Barriers to “diversity” identified in the report were:
"Strained relations and a lack of trust of law enforcement may deter individuals from underrepresented communities from applying to be officers.
"The reputation or operational practices of law enforcement agencies may dissuade applicants from underrepresented communities from pursuing a career in law enforcement.
"Individuals from underrepresented communities may not be sufficiently aware of career opportunities within law enforcement agencies."
Barriers to retention of minority officers were as follows:
"Individuals may face difficulties adjusting to a law enforcement agency’s organizational Culture.
"Individuals from underrepresented communities may face difficulties in the promotion process due to a lack of transparency about the process, as well as a scarcity of role models, mentoring relationships, and professional development opportunities."
The report said that certain externals to the hiring process for police officers must be addressed by local law enforcement agencies in order to meet the DOJ’s goal of “diversity.” The report found, for example, that the requirement that serving officers prove their American citizenship “may prevent a considerable number of racial and ethnic minorities – many of whom have valuable foreign language skills – from being hired by law enforcement agencies.”
The report opened with an analysis of EEOC labor force data, which “found that African-American, Latino, and Asian-American police officers were underrepresented relative to the local area population in a significant number of the departments analyzed. Using a statistical test of underrepresentation, the researchers found that within their sample, African Americans were underrepresented in 60 percent of the departments, Latinos were underrepresented in 41 percent, and Asian Americans were underrepresented in 31 percent.”
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