4.6: Police Diversity and Recruitment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and gender. In so doing, it opened a pathway into law enforcement professions for groups who had been largely excluded, namely women and people of color. While Title VII lawsuits have successfully struck down hiring requirements that were implicitly discriminatory (such as height, or fitness requirements), the Civil Rights Act has also been used to reprimand, and force changes, at police agencies that did not extend equal opportunities for promotion to all employees, or were created work environments that were hostile to those other than white men. Title VII has also led to the court-ordered adoption of affirmative action policies in hiring; for example, in 1974, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police was required to hire one Black woman, one Black man, and one white woman, for every white man they recruited. (The mandate expired in Pittsburgh in 1991.)

The last national census of law enforcement was conducted in 2016. Apart from reporting the number of law enforcement employees across different kinds of departments (for example, sheriff’s offices vs. municipal police; urban vs. rural), the Census also captures the demographics (race and gender) of law enforcement employees. Consider the two tables, presenting the demographics of sworn officers in local law enforcement, below. What trends do you see?

  White Black Hispanic Other
1997 78.5 11.6 7.8 2.1
2000 77.4 11.7 8.3 2.7
2003 76.4 11.7 9.1 2.8
2007 74.6 11.9 10.3 3.1
2013 71.4 11.9 11.4 3.5
2016 71.5 11.4 12.5 3.6
  Male Female
1997 90 10
2003 89.4 10.6
2007 88.7 11.3
2010 88.1 11.9
2013 87.8 12.2
2016 87.7 12.3





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Introduction to the U.S. Criminal Justice System Copyright © 2019 by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, and Shanell Sanchez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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