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Hiring a diverse community for community based policing
Community-based policing has become the most preferred form of policing across the US and many other western countries. In the recent wake of increased professional police misconduct cases characterized by unwarranted shootings, the public has developed a negative perception of the police force. Due to such issues, theorists argue that the most outstanding solution is hiring a diverse police force that understands the highly diverse American societies' unique behavioral and cultural practices. However, most police departments remain improperly constituted, with the majority making up the largest share. Therefore, despite the advantages of community-based policing in solving crime, the lack of a diverse police force has meant failure to realize any significant benefits. Policymakers and theorists have continued to emphasize that every police department must hire officers from diverse backgrounds to represent the population they serve. However, it has always remained a challenge, with most departments showing a disproportionate representation of the majority groups such as men and white Americans. In this paper, there is a profound discussion of the essence of hiring a diverse police force. The paper highlights numerous elements, including the nature of community-based policing, why diversity matters, and the factors that inhibit the achievement of diversity in most police departments. The paper also suggests the possible solutions to the problem, including the reliance on population benchmarks during the hiring process, eliminating barriers, and effective training. Ultimately, hiring a diverse police force is the only effective gateway to effective community-based policing.
Brief History of Community-Based Policing
Professionalism for law enforcers has come a long way. In modern times, it encompasses more than what was modeled centuries ago. In the 20th century, and mainly the 50's through the early '70s, police departments focused on improving police professionalism. In the 60s, every strategy to improve policing was referred to as professionalization and had three major elements or functionalities: suppressing crime; fighting crime scientifically and objectively free from any political interferences; and promoting centralization and rationalization within police departments (Sklansky, 2011). According to Loftus & Price (2016), the police professionalism movement of the 60s isolated police from the community to the extent that police departments appeared unresponsive and insensitive to public needs. The situation became clear during the civil unrest of the late 1960s. It is critical to highlight that while the police remained tactically and technically qualified in their professional competencies, as a group, they were poor communicators. Therefore, there was a great need to change the narrative and embrace a more holistic approach that considered the community as a critical component of solving societal problems.
Community-oriented policing emerged due to the limitations of police professionalism. During and after the reform era, community partnership and problem solving became a critical component of policing. In addition, offering services to the people became an essential nature of law enforcement. In an article by Musuguri (2018), policing became more than enforcing the law and becoming a social work practice. Modern police departments have become more complex and address sensitive duties in society compared to their traditional law enforcement responsibilities. Across the US and in many western countries, the police have incorporated words such as 'protect and serve' to show their commitment to serve the community through collaborative efforts (Sklansky, 2011). A professional in the police force will therefore focus on serving not himself but society. Over the years, community policing has reversed police professionalism's fundamental elements to a broadened focus of other goals, achieved through cooperation, collaboration, and consultation with the public.
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The Nature of Community-Based Policing
Historically, community-based policing has been used to describe a broad range of policing innovations. However, there is a lack of a commonly accepted definition. In an article by Cordner & Melekian (2010), community-based policing comprises "of all innovations in policing from the most ambitious to the most mundane, from the most carefully thought trough, to the most casual." Here, it has three major characteristics that set it apart from traditional policing: shared responsibility, prevention, problem-solving orientation, and officer discretion.
Community-based policing upholds the principle of shared responsibility. That is, law enforcers and community residents remain responsible for maintaining law and order in the community. The two parties must stay in continuous communication to build long-term mutual trust and cooperation (Skogan, 2019). Here, the community becomes actively involved in preventing and reporting crime as the police organize community watch and patrol groups. On the other hand, law enforcers remain responsive to crime and crime-related problems highlighted by community members. Usually, the police will organize meetings and foot patrols to interact informally with the public. In addition, police departments might assign officers to permanent beats to ensure that the police and the community interact positively.
Prevention and Problem-Solving
Policing in a traditional sense involved responding to calls after a crime occurred. However, community-based policing entails identifying the significant causes of crime and enforcing strategies that address such issues. Here, the police might work with organizations, the public, and the public and not for profit-making organizations to determine the best way to deal with crime (Skogan, 2019). For example, the police and the public can work together to determine the prevalence of drug abuse within a specific state and the possible solutions to eradicating the menace.
Being responsive to community concerns and building community trust requires profound discretion among the police when executing their duties and responsibilities. Within reasonable limits, the police must have a high degree of flexibility to approach problems effectively and not within a rigid set of rules and procedures. Here, officers must remain creative in solving community problems, which often demand a decentralized and flattened command structure.
Undoubtedly, community-based policing remains different from the traditional approach. Due to community-based policing focus on problem-solving and working with the community, it demands that officers learn new skills, knowledge, and attitudes while refining and modifying their traditional policing skills. The officers must learn three essential skills, including working with community members, making presentations to community groups, and involving the public and not-for-profit making organizations in community improvement efforts (Koslicki & Willits, 2018). Rather than considering citizens as part of the problem, law enforcers must learn how to view them as part of the solution. The police and the public must also remain aware of what community-based policing is and what it is not. According to Johnson (2017), community policing is not soft on crime, not a top-down approach, not risk-free, and not a quick fix to crime. Using community-based policing, officers effectively respond to individuals, consult and mobilize communities, and solve recurring problems. The critical element of community-based policing is the continued interaction between the police and the community across different avenues. The community members become a crucial ingredient towards controlling and preventing crimes.
Diversity for Community Based Policing
Recent events have raised issues on the lack of diversity within police departments and law enforcement agencies across the US. In 2015, news in Ferguson, Missouri, focused on the Ferguson Police Department's racial demographics. The department's major problem was that while two-thirds of Ferguson, Missouri residents are African-Americans, only three out of fifty-three commissioned officers were African-American (DOJ & EEOC, 2015). Ferguson's situation is not unique and represents many states across the nation where there is a significant mismatch between the racial composition of the police force and the community's demographics at large. In that regard, while community-based policing plays a critical role in society, the lack of an appropriately constituted police force could impede its effectiveness. In addition, while workforce diversity alone is not enough to address all issues concerning fairness and effective policing, achieving diversity is critical for law enforcement agencies to increase trust between them and the communities they protect. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission consider such trust as fundamental to defusing tension, investigating and solving crimes, and creating a system where citizens can rely on their police departments and receive fair treatment (DOJ & EEOC, 2015). Ideally, a diverse police force is less likely to be insular and become receptive to change. Based on this ideology, the following section highlights the different theories that focus on diversity.
The Cognitive Diversity Hypothesis
Numerous studies have evaluated the effects of diversity on group performance. Some studies argue that the two have a negative relationship with increased diversity leading to poor group performance. On the other hand, some studies maintain that the two have a positive relationship with more diversity leading to optimal performance. In an article by Rock & Grant (2016), physical characteristics such as race, age, and sex (collectively referred to as bio-demographic diversity) contribute to a positive influence on team performance since the members contribute to unique cognitive attributes based on their experiences originating from their demographic background (Cizmaș et a., 2020). According to the cognitive diversity hypothesis, multiple perspectives arising from cultural differences between a group and organizational members lead to creative problem solving and innovation. In other words, while a homogenous group might initially outperform a culturally diverse group, over time, diverse groups produce more results due to a wide range of ideas to choose from when solving a problem. The cognitive diversity hypothesis attributes such benefits to the multiple perspectives generated by group members' cultural diversity. A homogenous group outperforms a heterogeneous one in the early stages of functioning due to the latter group's unfamiliarity with one another (Rock & Grant, 2016). A homogenous group might be more efficient than a heterogeneous one, but the latter sacrifices efficiency for effectiveness across numerous areas.
The Schema Theory
The schema theory focuses on how individuals encode information about others based on their demographic characteristics. Usually, individuals' knowledge and information have patterns and interrelationships or schemas that guide external and internal decision-making (Hunzaker & Valentino, 2019). Using the perceived knowledge and beliefs embodied in such schemas, individuals can categorize others based on specific characteristics. The schemas become a tool to evaluate newly encountered people and make decisions concerning their interaction with them. A police officer will develop schemas about particular people in the community based on different diversity traits. The schema could be positive or negative and will play a fundamental role in influencing specific community members' attitudes and behaviors. In that case, diversity within the police force is critical to avoiding negative schemas that might adversely affect attitudes and behaviors towards specific groups, such as considering African-Americans as naturally violent.
The Justification-Suppression Model
The justification-suppression model explains the situations where prejudiced people might act on their prejudices. The theory suggests that everyone has biases, and they acquire them from a young age and have a hard time departing from them as they age (Obenauer, 2017). In addition, individuals will use different approaches to justify those prejudices. While many people will suppress any outward manifestation of their prejudices, others will act on them and justify their actions. In most cases, physically and emotionally exhausted individuals might have a greater disposition to act on their prejudices, leading to negative behavior that negatively affects others. For example, a white police officer might have a bias against the black community. Although the officer might suppress such prejudices to depict professionalism or empathy, the officer might act on the prejudices leading to an unwarranted shooting of an unarmed African-American when tired.
The three theories, including the cognitive diversity hypothesis, the schema theory, and the justification suppression model, call for increased workplace diversity. However, one question that remains is how a diverse police force would like. In most workplaces and police departments across the US, there has been a tendency to focus on race as the only factor towards promoting diversity. However, diversity goes beyond race to include age, cultural background, physical abilities, disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. The nature of diversity calls for increased acceptance and respect. In other words, it entails a profound understanding that people are unique while recognizing individual differences. In addition, it involves appreciating that people come from different cultures and natural environments that play a critical role in influencing interactions. Here, interactions remain an important factor when analyzing diversity due to community-based policing nature that calls for increased interactions to build trust between the police and the community. A diverse police force would promote a balanced workforce on age, cultural background, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation for effective community-based policing.
Why diversity Matters
According to the cognitive diversity hypothesis, the schema theory, and the justification suppression model, diversity matters. According to the DOJ and EEOC (2015), an agency that reflects the racial demographics of the community they serve fulfills several essential purposes in eliminating racial bias in community policing (Fridell et al., 2018). The first purpose is that the diverse force creates an image of equity to the public, especially among minority populations. The second reason is that it increases the chances, in general, that the concerned force understands the perspectives of its minorities and communicates effectively with them. The third reason is that it increases the chances that law enforcers can better understand and respect different racial and cultural perspectives through their daily interactions with community members. In recent years, typical rhetoric is that the police negatively perceive minority groups such as the LGBT community.
Without a doubt, the public's trust and confidence in law enforcers is the cornerstone for public cooperation and the basis for police legitimacy in a democratic society (Miles-Johnson, 2013). However, the failure to address the police's lack of trust and confidence may make minority groups hold adverse and biased opinions towards the police. In most cases, minority groups avoid police engagement leading to reduced or biased cooperation, which is a significant obstacle to effective community-based policing (Miles-Johnson, 2013). Trust in the police means that the public considers the police as giving priority to their best interests. However, the LGBT community mistrusts the police and fear that they might incur abuse and possible victimization. A diverse police force could help address the concerns of most minority groups, such as the LGBTQ community.
The perceptions of non-normative sexualities such as those of the LGBTQ community challenge mainstream models and policing practices. However, most policing models and techniques directed towards the community are those of a hetero-normative society based on white, masculine, and heterosexual ethos (Miles-Johnson, 2013). Therefore, when the police encounter an individual from the LGBTQ society, they result in homophobic confrontations. Over the years, the police have tended to uphold or maintain dominating societal norms, which are not always reflective of a diverse community. In a journal article by Dario et al. (2019), police homophobia is a significant factor leading to a lack of trust and engagement between minority populations such as the LGBTQ community and the police. The outlawing and devaluing of the community has led to a negatively impacted community-based policing program. Surprisingly, evidence suggests that due to the distrust between the LBTQ community and the police, violent crimes and other crime forms go unreported when it involves an individual of the minority population (Keith and Gagliano, 2018). A diverse police force comprising of members from the LGBTQ community could help address such issues. Biased targeting of people from specific groups based on their race, gender, and sexual orientation, among other characteristics, is a violation of the fundamental civil rights laws and protections.
Women remain disproportionately represented in law enforcement agencies. In the US, most police departments have faced harsh criticism due to their failure to hire more women in the police force. In 2016, Asquith (2016) highlighted the Baltimore Police department's case that faced criticism from the DOJ for neglecting sex crimes. The department ignored most rape cases and left most rape kits untested while ignoring evidence. The department had created a hostile environment for rape victims, with most male officers arguing that the women are 'whores’ and trying to 'mess up guys' lives" (Asquith, 2016). Most sexual crimes, including three rape cases and sexual assault, were dismissed as unfounded. In such situations, the most pertinent explanation is the lack of hiring more women in police departments. While recent events, including the Black Lives Matter, called for increased diversity in police departments to address police brutality cases, the issue of hiring more women remained unattended (Asquith, 2016). In community-based policing, the hiring of more women in police departments means that domestic violence victims can report such incidents to female officers. The lack of a diverse police force across many US regions has meant that most domestic violence and sex crimes go unreported.
Advantages of Diversity in Law Enforcement
Policing in a multicultural society raises significant challenges to officers and community residents. The diversity debate carries an enormous weight across different industries. Still, it can lead to a confusing tangle of headlines, laws, and politics when it comes to law enforcement and community policing. Undoubtedly, people from different cultural backgrounds or diversities have different demeanors and ways of conducting themselves. Any lack of diversity in the police force means that officers cannot address cultural differences leading to misunderstanding. Community-based policing characteristics, including shared responsibility, officer discretion, and prevention and problem-solving, mean that officers must understand the community they represent for a better engagement. Based on this ideology, a diverse police force would achieve the following.
Communication is an essential element for any effective community-based policing program. Through effective communication, the police can build trust, create transparency, and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and empathy while on the streets. According to Miles-Johnson (2019), officers might act unprofessionally or harbor misconduct when in stressful situations or during an engagement with members of the public when they feel threatened, such as policing in high-crime areas or minority-concentrated regions. In addition, the nature of police work puts unprecedented pressures and temptations for officers to engage in different forms of misconduct (Miles-Johnson, 2019). The lack of effective communication techniques or failure to understand how diverse groups communicate exacerbates the problem.
A diverse police force would communicate with cultural nuance. Usually, people from different cultures communicate using unique body language and subtle conversation cues. Such a condition could make it difficult for law enforcers to pick simple conversational cues in their community policing strategies, such as when conducting foot patrols. For example, Miami has a massive Latin population where they communicate in close proximity that would make someone from a different culture uncomfortable. In such an environment, it would be unwise to have the majority (whites) as the majority in the region's police force. On the other hand, a diverse police force comprising of a significant number of Latin officers would be more effective in working within the region.
Earn Public Trust
A diverse police force would earn public trust. Without a doubt, trust between the community and the police is a gateway to effective community-based policing. In recent years, police shootings across different states have raised tension between the police and black communities. As a result, law enforcement agencies have called for help in the hope of hiring a diverse force to establish community trust. In 2016, police bosses in Minneapolis, Knoxville, and Tennessee focused on attracting and hiring more minorities to the police force (Fifield, 2016). In 2016, PEW research indicated that the share of minority officers has doubled in three decades from 14.6% to 27.3% since 1987. However, the increase has not reflected the number of minorities in the US at 37.2%. In addition, small departments remain less diverse, with departments serving less than two thousand five hundred people having 84.4% white officers and departments serving a million citizens having 53.4% white officers (Fifield, 2016).
During the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer, the Ferguson police department and the US Department of Justice recommended hiring more minorities to reduce tension and reduce such incidences. Usually, a diverse police force will lead to increased community trust. According to Flavin (2018), citizens are more inclined to trust and open up to individuals with whom they share something. Therefore, diverse police agencies are likely to acquire individual trust among a group of citizens if they reflect diversity by hiring officers of different backgrounds and experiences.
Solve Crimes Faster
The most significant advantage of community-based policing is solving crime. However, solving crime would be impossible without an effective interview process. In recent times, police interviews have become critical tools of criminal investigation at pre-trial investigations, forensic labs, and courtrooms (Thomas, 2017). If investigation agencies that conduct pre-trial investigations of offenses fail, then prosecution becomes a nightmare. A part of police training involves how to conduct effective interviews with a suspect. However, numerous factors, including the lack of rapport between an officer and a suspect, would negatively affect the interview process. In his article, Flavin (2018) highlights the response from an officer who maintained, "no matter how well you know your stuff—people with different backgrounds, experiences, and personalities than yours will be the better choice depending on the interview." Diversity in the interview room aids in proper planning, preparation, and execution for greater success. For example, a Latin American officer has a better ground when interviewing an individual of a similar race compared to an officer from a different racial background.
Barriers to a Diverse Police Force
Up to this point, it is clear that diversity is critical to the successful implementation of community-based policing. However, numerous barriers impede hiring a diverse police force to achieve the desired outcomes of community-based policing. In an article by Wilson et al. (2016), obstacles to a diverse workforce could occur at various points in the career lifecycle, including the recruiting stage, the hiring stage, and the promotion stage.
The Recruitment Barriers
According to Wilson et al. (2016), the police force's first recruitment barrier is the significantly low number of women and racial/ethnic minorities applying for police jobs. The authors highlight three primary causes to the outcome, including the target population could be disproportionately unaware of such a recruitment exercise, unqualified, or uninterested. The lack of awareness could be due to poor outreach actions by the hiring personnel. In other words, the hiring team could be failing to conduct sufficient recruitment in regions where the demographics could lead to a high turnout of marginalized or minority populations. Also, a lack of interest or qualification for a police job could arise from numerous factors, but they also suggest a lack of recruitment effort.
The police have a critical role in influencing the recruitment of minorities and marginalized populations into the police force. Wilson et al. (2016) suggest adhering to well-established tenets of policing such as keeping people safe while adhering to high standards of professionalism, integrity and fostering partnerships in the community. For instance, a local police department could organize an outreach program that helps youths avoid crime and substance abuse. Such a program would enhance the public's perception of the police, especially among groups with historically low affinity for law enforcement. The outreach programs will have a multiplier effect by influencing more people to join the force to push for a noble agenda.
Most police agencies have strict educational, medical, physical fitness, and background requirements. Some of the factors, including education, health, and education, could pose a significant barrier for women and racial minorities. Although some of the elements remain critical to fulfilling police duties effectively, it is crucial to identify some of the factors that could affect hiring some groups to have a diverse police force.
According to Wilson et al. (2016), most agencies consider having a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certificate as the bare minimum. In a study by de Brey (2018), minority populations have a higher high school status dropout rate than the white majority. For instance, in 2000-2016, the Hispanic dropout rate decreased from 28% to 9%. That of the blacks decreased from 13% to 6% while that of the whites decreased from 7% to 5%. The same statistics reveal that Blacks and Hispanics have a low high-school completion rate than their white counterparts. In the LGBTQ community, most drop out of school due to a hostile learning environment and other challenges outside of school caused by discrimination and stigma. Those who fail to complete high school have a higher risk of future adverse outcomes, including involvement with the criminal justice system and poverty. Therefore, educational requirements are a significant barrier to a diverse police force.
Joining the police force requires well-stipulated fitness requirements. The recruiters use different tests to measure endurance, body strength, and agility. For the Houston Police Department passing the physical agility test means finishing a 1.5 mile run in 17.30 minutes, a 300-meter sprint in 78 seconds, a vertical jump of 16.5 inches, 15 pushups, and weapons compatibility with six trigger pulls with each hand. Usually, some groups, including Hispanics and Blacks, might fail to partake in the tests due to the high prevalence of obesity in their communities. For instance, about four out of five African-American are overweight or obese. The rates by ethnicity in California, for example, include 22% for whites, 33.6% for Latinos, 36.15 for African-Americans, and 9.8% for Asians (Wang et al., 2017). The high obesity rate is an automatic disqualification of the fitness test performance. In addition, while overweight individuals can engage in intense physical activities, having a high body fat percentage is a medical disqualification at some agencies. Ideally, obesity exposes individuals to other medical risks, including hypertension and diabetes, which become solid grounds for medical disqualification.
Citizenship and Residency
One of the requirements of becoming a police officer in the US is being an American citizen. Such a requirement poses a massive barrier to minorities from the applicant pool. According to 2015 statistics, the US has an estimated 47 million (14.4% of the general population). Interestingly, no individual from the group qualifies to become a police officer in any of the American states. Such a fact blocks people from minority groups such as Hispanics and Asians from joining the police force. As highlighted by Wilson et al. (2016), another factor is the residency barrier, especially when the starting salary is higher than the cost of living. For example, New York police officers must live in one of the counties or the five boroughs. In the same vein, Boston requires that all officers reside in the city of Boston.
A background check is a critical hiring process for law enforcers. However, it poses significant barriers to racial minorities. In a study by Rovner (2016), in 2013, black juveniles were more than four times likely to be committed as white juveniles, more than three times for American Indians, and 61% more likely for Hispanic juveniles. Any history of being in contact with the police becomes an automatic disqualifier despite the disproportionate representation among minorities. Any financial problems could also become a disqualifying factor following a background investigation.
Promotion and Retention Barriers
A promotion barrier occurs when a diverse police force has a significantly low number in the upper ranks. Like the hiring process, the promotion process contains assessments and exams that might disproportionately affect those who rise to the upper levels. Any promotion test should be free from any predictive bias to avoid any biasness towards a particular group. On retention, women have a low retention rate than men. A study by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, & United States of America (2020) highlighted women police officers leave the profession due to sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
A thorough analysis of many police departments across the US reveals a worrying trend of lack of diversity. The lack of diversity occurs across different stages, from recruitment to promotion. Due to community-based policing's nature and essence, it is clear that if police departments fail to comprise a racially diverse workforce that represents the people they serve, any community-based policing efforts will fail. Therefore, the departments must promote diversity to enjoy the benefits, including communicating effectively, earning public trust, and solving crimes faster. The following solutions will go a long way towards hiring a diverse police force for effective community-based policing programs.
Undoubtedly, the US remains one of the most prominent nations globally with a racially diverse population. Some states have a massive population of minorities, such as African-Americans and Latin Americas. In such situations having a police department comprising white Americans leads to numerous injustices and crippled community-based policing programs. According to Wilson et al. (2016), the solution is to increase reliance on population benchmarks to establish whether specific populations remain under- or overrepresented in the police force. During the hiring process, the hiring team should rely on the local market population by analyzing potential applicants' geographical distribution using the Geographic Information System mapping software and other data sources such as the American Community Surveys and the Census Bureau. After relying on such data sources, the hiring team should identify the majority populations and their actual numbers. For example, if a region has 100,000 African-Americans and 80,000 white Americans, then the police officers' hired team should reflect the statistics. Using the designed benchmarks, police departments should continuously monitor and evaluate whether the agency workforce accurately depicts the actual demographics.
As earlier highlighted, numerous barriers prevent certain groups from joining the police force. According to Wilson et al. (2016), it is essential to eliminate some of the obstacles. For instance, if a particular hiring requirement is an obstacle to hiring specific populations, a police department should determine the obstacle's validity and ensure that it is not a powerful predictor of an officer's future job performance. Also, it is crucial to decide on the existence of alternative tools that could pose fewer adverse effects in the hiring process for minority populations. In the past, the Long Beach Police Department eased its fitness tests to eliminate a mandatory requirement of a 150-lb dummy drag to ensure that more women join the force (Wilson et al., 2016). Before the move, many women could not enter the police force despite the requirement being a weak predictor or standard for measuring good police work. Eliminating such barriers could ensure that minority populations get a chance to work as police officers in different jurisdictions. It could also mean having a diverse police force representative of the people they serve.
Hiring a diverse workforce remains one of the most significant challenges for most police departments. While eliminating barriers and using population benchmarks could be a solution, it might not work in the long term. Therefore, Miles-Johnson's (2019) study calls for enhancing police recruit perceptions of misconduct when interacting with diverse groups. The first step is instructing recruits well through appropriate mentoring and training to increase a positive perception of professional conduct while reducing misconduct cases. The researchers also highlight how new police officers respond to different situations during law enforcement and public order maintenance depending on their adherence to professional conduct (Miles-Johnson, 2019). The departments should create programs that target implicit and explicit bias to ensure that officers remain calm when faced with situations that might exacerbate their biasness towards specific groups of people. Also, since police officers remain exposed to different job-related stressors that might affect their professional conduct, senior officers should shape their perceptions and manage their expectations. Any guidance from the senior officers should help recruits understand how to behave and act when faced with situations that might lead to unprofessional conduct.
In summary, a diverse police force is the only gateway to effective community-based policing. The nature of community-based policing calls for increased interactions between the police and the community, but having a poorly constituted force impedes such efforts. According to the cognitive diversity hypothesis, the schema theory, and the justification suppression model, a heterogeneous group outperforms a homogenous one. Also, individuals' knowledge and information have patterns and interrelationships or schemas that guide external and internal decision-making. For example, a white officer might consider an unarmed black man as dangerous because of cultural differences and previous interactions with people from the African-American community. Although numerous barriers to a diverse force exist, it is critical that police departments focus on using population benchmarks, eliminate existing or possible obstacles, and train officers appropriately to solve the problem. The police force's diversity will lead to departments that are constitutive of the populations they represent for effective community-based policing programs characterized by effective communication, increased trust, and fast solving of crimes.
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