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The Value of Diversity

Policing is most successful when it has the support of the community it serves. Law enforcement is one of the most visible government agencies in the country and should reflect the diversity within the communities they serve. A lack of diversity within an agency does not necessarily mean that a department or individual officer is intolerant of racial, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religious differences. However, a lack of diversity within an agency leads to a shortfall in the knowledge, understanding, legitimacy, and experiences in relation to the characteristics of the communities they serve.

Barriers to Diversity

Understanding the barriers to the recruitment, selection, and retention process is important for all law enforcement agencies and how to overcome them to guarantee that the right and most qualified officers are recruited without compromising the integrity of the agency. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission joined to launch Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement. This interagency research initiative intends to help law enforcement agencies recruit, select, retain, and promote officers that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

Dr. Patrick Oliver describes in Creating a Multicultural Law Enforcement Agency: An Intentional Priority the steps needed to overcome the barriers in diversifying the law enforcement workforce.

Women and Minorities in Policing

According to the National Institute of Justice special report, despite efforts to increase the number of women in policing, women make up less than 13% of total officers and a much smaller proportion in leadership roles. Lacking is the research for understanding the challenges women officers face and how to overcome these unique challenges. This report identifies promising practices and next steps by participants, from the study, who are in support of mentoring and sponsorship by law enforcement leaders to foster success and career tracks for women officers. This report also identifies and supports the creation of flexible family-friendly policies, and other opportunities to help foster a successful and productive culture for women in policing.