Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement

Today, our country is in the midst of an unprecedented national conversation on community-police relations. All across our nation – from small suburban hamlets to large, urban centers – tragic events have brought to the forefront underlying issues about the ways in which law enforcement agencies engage with the communities that they are sworn to protect and serve. Two years ago, President Obama established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing for the purpose of identifying “the best means to provide an effective partnership between law enforcement and local communities that reduces crime and increases trust.” Among its recommendations, the Task Force identified increasing the diversity of the nation’s law enforcement agencies as an important aspect in developing that trust.

Building on this effort, in December 2015 our agencies – the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – joined together to launch “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement,” an interagency research initiative designed to help our nation’s law enforcement agencies recruit, hire, retain, and promote officers that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. While we fully recognize that increasing diversity in law enforcement agencies alone cannot solve the myriad challenges in policing or address every concern about public trust in law enforcement, enhancing diversity must be part of the conversation about improving relations between law enforcement and communities.

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