Diversity & Inclusion

DOJ and EEOC release ‘Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement’ report

by Sean D. Lee

On October 5, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a joint report aimed at helping law enforcement agencies across the country recruit, hire, and retain diverse workforces.  Police presence at Trump rally

The comprehensive report, “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement,” presents the findings of a joint research initiative by the DOJ and the EEOC launched in December 2015 to understand the barriers that undermine diversity in law enforcement and highlight “promising practices” to increase diversity. The report arrives amid an intensifying national conversation about race and policing, although it stresses that diversity also includes characteristics like sex, sexual orientation, religion, language ability, and life experience.

The report identifies a number of barriers to recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse workforce, such as negative perceptions of police in underrepresented communities, “inadequately tailored” candidate screening examinations, and a lack of mentoring relationships and professional development opportunities for current officers. It then considers promising practices for increasing diversity, citing effective programs from police departments nationwide. For example, the report commends the Sacramento (California) Police Department for its outreach efforts, including free hiring workshops, “run with a recruiter” program, and patrol ride-along opportunities.

While the report acknowledges that enhancing workforce diversity alone cannot “solve the myriad challenges in policing,” it concludes that enhancing diversity is an integral part of improving relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

The DOJ and EEOC’s report comes two years after President Barack Obama established the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, charged with identifying best practices to reduce crime “while building public trust.” The report builds on the task force’s findings—particularly its recommendation that law enforcement agencies “should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity, including race, gender, language, life experience, and cultural background.”

Sean D. Lee is an associate with Fortney & Scott, LLC. He can be reached at slee@fortneyscott.com.