Novak, Police & Society 8e Student Resources

Diversity and Inclusion

Chapter Twelve examines cultural diversity in policing. It is believed that a diverse police department is more effective than one that is not.

Historically, police departments have discriminated against minorities and women in employment, assignments, promotions, and social acceptance.

Very little has been written about the early development of racial minority police officers in this country. Minority representation of police grew in many cities as the result of pressure from the black community. It was believed that using black officers to patrol in black areas would reduce hostility toward the police.

Although minority members have been added to policing, they may not have been treated equally. Black officers were only permitted to patrol in black neighborhoods. They were not permitted to arrest white suspects. Dismissal because of race was a possibility. Promotions were rare for black officers.

It was recommended that minority and female officers be involved in the recruitment process to help generate interest in policing among minorities and women.

Some evidence indicates that black officers have been harder on black citizens than have white officers. Black officers needed to prove that they were not biased and treated black suspects the same as they treated white suspects, or even more harshly.

Racially mixed policing teams could have several benefits. The teams could have a moderating effect on officers of each race. They can also lead to socializing each officer in ways to interact with citizens of different races. The mixed teams may serve as a symbolic benefit for the police department.

Women are significantly underrepresented in policing. Prior to the 1950s, the role of women in policing was restricted primarily to social-welfare assignments, including dealing with juvenile and family problems or being prison matrons. During the 1950s, their role was expanded to include narcotics and vice investigations.

The 1972 amendments to the 1964 Civil Rights Act forced police departments to eliminate discriminatory practices in hiring and job assignment. Following this, the number of women in policing increased. Today, women are assigned to all police functions.

Females performed as well in policing as male officers. Women made fewer arrests but appeared to be more effective in defusing potentially violent situations. Women had a less aggressive style of policing and were less likely to be charged with improper conduct. Women were found to be less likely to use a firearm in violent confrontations, less likely to seriously injure a citizen, no more likely to suffer injuries, and more emotionally stable.

Affirmative action plans were attempts to remedy past discriminatory employment and promotional practices. Affirmative action plans played an important role in police employment trends.

Law suits concerning discrimination in employment are brought under either the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. Title VII prohibits any discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established to investigate possible violations of the act.

The police believed that the civil service, or merit system, was a fair and effective means of producing a professional force. The courts have indicated that a police department must: (1) establish that a selection procedure can be scientifically linked to job performance, or (2) restructure the selection process in manner that does not discriminate against qualified minorities.

In the cased of Griggs v. Duke Power Company (1971), the United States Supreme Court held that the use of a professionally developed examination could not be used if it had a discriminatory effect. If a requirement can be shown to be a valid requirement for the job, even if it may have a discriminatory impact, it may be allowed to remain as a requirement.

Affirmative action plans brought about allegations of reverse discrimination. Those that were not part of the plan felt that they were discriminated against and brought suit. In Detroit Police Officers’ Association v. Young (1978), the court ruled that preferential treatment had been granted to blacks solely on the basis of race and that the policy therefore discriminated against all others. In US v. Paradise (1987), the US Supreme Court upheld racial quotas as a means of reversing past discrimination.

More women are being hired onto police departments. However, they are not being promoted to positions of power and policy making at a high rate. Data on minority promotions are more limited.

Many male officers have opposed women being hired onto police departments. A survey of police departments in the Northwest indicated that only one-third of male officers actually accepted a woman on patrol and that more than half did not think that women can handle the physical requirements of the job as well as men.

Female officers have had to deal with the police culture, which has as its foundation a sexist and macho perception of the role of police. Women who do not conform to sex-role stereotypes and are tough enough to gain respect as officers may be labeled as bitches or lesbians in an attempt to neutralize their threat to male dominance. This is a process known as defeminization.

The policewoman attempts to gain her male colleagues’ approval by adhering to traditional police values and norms, with law enforcement her primary orientation. The policewoman attempts to perform her duties in a traditionally feminine manner by making few arrests, infrequently using physical activity, and placing strong emphasis on being a lady.

Sexual harassment in the workplace involves unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Quid pro quo harassment requires the employee to decide between the job and the sexual demands. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered officers often suffer from double marginality, and their sexuality is often a barrier to professional development and promotion.

One of the future prospects in policing seeks to improve recruitment and retention of women in policing. To do this, departments must attempt to accelerate change in the traditional, militaristic, male-dominated, sexist police culture. The departments must implement policies and practices that are not discriminatory. They must also make police work attractive to women and minorities.