The Justice Department (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have released a comprehensive report that examines barriers and promising practices — in recruitment, hiring and retention — for advancing diversity in law enforcement. The report, developed with support from the Center for Policing Equity, aims to provide law enforcement agencies, especially small and mid-size agencies, with a resource to enhance the diversity of their workforce by highlighting specific strategies and efforts in place in police departments around the country.

DOJĀ and EEOC engaged with dozens of law enforcement leaders, officials and officers, researchers, civil rights advocates and other experts to produce the report. The report, which builds on the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, notes that while greater workforce diversity alone cannot ensure fair and effective policing, a significant – and growing – body of evidence suggests that diversity can make policing more effective, more safe and more just. For example, among other benefits, increasing diversity can improve relations with the communities agencies serve, address language barriers to serve all residents, make agencies more open to reform and potentially reduce racial bias.

“This report is a resource for law enforcement agencies as they work to ensure that their ranks reflect the communities they serve — not simply by identifying the traditional barriers to a diverse work force, but also by highlighting real-world examples of law enforcement agencies that have effectively implemented smart policies in this area,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates. “We hope that law enforcement agencies will find this report useful in their ongoing efforts to strengthen trust with the broader community.”

The practices highlighted in this report vary considerably. The report demonstrates, however, that successful diversity-building efforts by law enforcement agencies share several common themes, including:

  • ensuring that the agency’s organizational culture is guided by community policing, procedural justice and cultural inclusivity;
  • engaging stakeholders — both from within and outside the law enforcement agency to help create a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community; and
  • being willing to re-evaluate employment criteria, standards and benchmarks to ensure that they are tailored to the skills needed to perform job functions, and consequently attract, select and retain the most qualified and desirable sworn officers.

The full report is available online at diversity.