Diversity in a Police Force Police Departments Research Proposal

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¶ … Diversity in a Police Force

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Police departments in the 21st century enjoy a level of technology that would make Dick Tracy envious, but they are also faced with several challenges that have made their jobs more difficult than ever. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the nation's law enforcement community has been tasked with a number of responsibilities that further exacerbate the difficulty of their jobs, and immigration, the flow of illegal drugs and violent crime continue to plague the nation today. In this environment, identifying more effective approaches to the provision of policing represents a timely and important enterprise and represents the focus of this study. A growing body of evidence suggests that in an increasingly multicultural society, a police force that mirrors the demographic composition of the community it serves is crucial for several reasons, including social equity, but there are some more pragmatic reasons as well, such as the willingness of citizens to share crime information with members of the police force who are of the same ethnic background. Notwithstanding the problems of using affirmative action initiatives to achieve parity in the demographic composition of the nation's law enforcement community, it would seem that the advantages of maintaining a diverse police force far outweigh any constraints associated with a diverse police force. Although some critics argue that lowering the bar to recruit members of minority groups into police department may endanger other police officers and the larger community they serve, the findings of this study strongly indicate that a diverse police force is an important component of the provision of effective law enforcement services today. A review of the relevant literature and an analysis of available statistical data concerning these issues is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Research Proposal on Diversity in a Police Force Police Departments Assignment

Purpose of Study

Importance of Study

Scope of Study

Rationale of Study

Overview of Study

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Chapter 3: Methodology

Description of the Study Approach

Data-gathering Method and Database of Study

Chapter 4: Data Analysis

Chapter 5: Summary and Recommendations

The Importance of Diversity in a Police Force

Chapter 1: Introduction

Today, police departments across the country are faced with many of the same problems and challenges that have plagued American society for decades, including illicit and dangerous drug use (especially methamphetamine), domestic violence, gang activity, assaults and violence in the schools, but there have been some new threats that have emerged in recent years as well. Indeed, illegal immigration and the need for improved homeland security have made the jobs of police officers across the country more difficult than ever before. Therefore, identifying more effective approaches to the provision of law enforcement services represents a timely and important enterprise which is the focus of this study and is discussed further below.

Statement of the Problem

Although things are slowly changing, the research will show that the vast majority of police departments in the United States continue to remain composed primarily of white males. At the same time, the demographic composition of the United States has fundamentally changed in recent decades, with the Hispanic population growing more rapidly than others, but with a number of other ethnic groups increasing as well. In response, some police departments have accelerated the recruitment of minority members to help balance the composition of their forces to better reflect the larger communities they serve, but in other cases, the status quo remains firmly in place, a trend that represents the focus of this study.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to deliver a timely and thoughtful review of the relevant literature concerning the importance of developing a diverse police force that reflects the demographic composition of the larger community it serves.

Importance of Study

Today, the concept of professionalism in law enforcement requires a community policing approach that recognizes social diversity. In this regard, Panitch, Barnes-Proby, Williams, Christian, Lewis, Gerwehr and Brannan (2003) report that, "Every modern metropolitan area is a palette of rich demographic differences. The concepts underlying community policing and diversity awareness must therefore pervade the entire organization, including its training functions" (p. 6). According to Broadnax (2000), a police force can improve relations by encouraging a diverse cadre that is representative of the demographic composition of the larger community it serves. As a result, balancing a workforce by making it representative of a relevant community can have an enormous impact on the effectiveness of the police force as well as promoting social equity (Broadnax 2000). Nevertheless, it remains unclear to what extent, and indeed, whether policy departments across the country have adapted to these changing demographic patterns in recent years (Culver 2004).

Scope of Study

Although the study examined the peer-reviewed and scholarly literature as it applied to diversity in law enforcement in other countries, there was a specific focus on developing diversity in police departments in the United States in general and how these issues affect Asian-Americans in law enforcement in particular.

Rationale of Study

An examination of how a diverse police force can better serve its constituents represents a very timely endeavor indeed. For instance, Sklansky (2006) recently noted that the research to date concerning the increasingly multicultural aspects of many Western democracies has resulted in a dichotomy of views. According to Sklansky, on the one hand, "The growing diversity of police forces changes almost nothing, or it changes almost everything. Usually the new demographics are treated as cosmetic or, at best, largely symbolic" (p. 1209). This perspective holds that the fundamental aspects of law enforcement represent a matter of occupational outlook and organizational culture, rather than of the personal characteristics of new recruits. In other words, "Blue is blue': the job shapes the officer, not the other way around" (Sklansky 2006, p. 1209). This view suggests that police officers of all backgrounds are assumed either to make peace with the "white, masculine, heterosexual ethos" that typifies policing, or they will have ongoing problems in the workplace. On the other hand, the growing diversity of police forces is frequently cited as a basis for a need for the complete rethinking of criminal procedure and, more generally, the entire approach to modern law enforcement (Sklansky 2006).

From a strictly pragmatic perspective, though, Lott (2000) suggests that the advantages of including more minority members in law enforcement cadres just makes good sense. According to Lott, "The potential law enforcement advantages from multiracial or female officers seem obvious. Minority police officers may be more effective in minority areas simply because residents could be more forthcoming about information that will lead to arrests and convictions or because of the officers' ability to serve as undercover agents" (p. 240). Likewise, trust represents an essential element in effective law enforcement as well, as reports of riots erupting after white police officers have shot a black man readily confirm. In this regard, Lott adds that, "Officers from a community may also be better at understanding the behavior of criminals in those areas or even something as basic as understanding the language of immigrants. In any event, police efforts to reduce crime are surely dependent on the help that they receive from the community" (p. 240). Therefore, it makes just makes good sense to identify ways in which a police department can improve its ability to deliver effective law enforcement services by promoting diversity within its ranks.

Overview of Study

This paper used a five-chapter format to achieve the above-stated research purpose. Chapter one of the study was used to introduce the topic under consideration, provide a statement of the problem, the purpose and importance of the study, as well as its scope and rationale. Chapter two of the study provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature, and chapter three describes more fully the study's methodology, including a description of the study approach, the data-gathering method and the database of study that was consulted. Chapter four of the study consists of an analysis of the statistical data developed during the research process and chapter five presents the study's conclusions, a summary of the research and salient recommendations for the law enforcement community and policymakers at all levels alike.

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature


This chapter presents a background and overview of law enforcement in the United States, a discussion concerning the types of recruitment approaches used in different agencies, the impact of cultural diversity on police departments in general and on minority police officers in particular, a summary of what has been accomplished in improving the representation of minority members in the nation's law enforcement communities to date and the corresponding associated outcomes, a description of the working environment for police officers in general and for minority members in particular, followed by a discussion of what remains to be done to effect improved training and representation in law enforcement communities in the United States today.

Background and Overview.

In almost all American communities, the police department represents… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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