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Is Diversity An Issue Within Law Enforcement From The Past To Present?

1322 words - 6 pages

The term diversity refers to the condition of being diverse; thus, “composed of distinct forms or qualities” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2004). Looking back at the history of the U.S., there has always been a diverse population in many jurisdictions. But did policy agency workforces mirror this diversity of the communities they served? When in the past the issue of diversity within law enforcement was at stake, where the same measures used today the same as the in the past?
The U.S’s law enforcement mores originate from the English Law Enforcement. When the U.S. came into being with the endorsement of the Constitution, the twofold sovereignty of state and democracy required the ...view middle of the document...

S., sexual orientation, and racial backgrounds. Women who were hired as police officers were appointed duties that did not require them to work street patrol. New York City employed its first police matron in 1845 and in 1888 together with Massachusetts voted for a statute that required “communities with a population of over 20,000 to hire police matrons to care for female prisoners (Shusta, Levine, Wong, Olson, and Harris, 2010, p. 51; Felperin, 2004). This created a path for more women officers to be hired. In 1905, the Portland, Oregon Police Department appointed its first woman [Lola Baldwin] sworn as a police officer but not allowed to patrol. The International Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution in 1922 supporting the use of police women [but did not work as patrol or detectives]. The Indianapolis Police Department assigned the first two female officers on patrol in 1968 and in 1985, Portland, Oregon appointed the first woman [Penny Harrington] Chief of Police. Laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act contributed to the hiring of women in the law enforcement field (Shusta et al., 2010, p. 51; Felperin, 2004).
Although women were admitted early with restricted jobs, minorities such as blacks and Latinos had a lengthy way to fight for their representation within law enforcement in the intensifying diverse population. In 1960s and early 1970s, blacks revolted in anger because of their few job opportunities including the law enforcement. Police administrations were forced to discuss and solve problems; thus bringing the police into close contact with neighborhood inhabitants (Major Cities Chiefs Association Critical Issues Study Group, 2001). The first African American woman to be chief was allotted in 1994 in Atlanta (Shusta et al., 2010, p. 51).
However, even though there continues to be differences between the demographic outline of police departments and people within a certain jurisdiction, there is an improvement in representation of the cultural diversity as compared to early law enforcement years. In 2004, women represented 11.3% of local police departments, 12.9% of sheriff’s offices and 16.1% of federal law enforcement offices in the U.S. (Joseph, 2011; National Center for Women & Policing, n.d). From those statistics, according to Shusta et al., (2010), 2.7% are African American female officers, 1.3%Latina female, and 0.3% includes Asian, Native Hawaiian, American Indian, and Alaska Natives women. All minorities in law enforcement departments in the U.S. account for approximately 17.7% Hispanic or Latino, and 11.4% black or African Americans, and about 1.0% of Asians [including Native Hawaiians, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other Pacific Islanders]. This is undoubtedly an overall number greater than a hundred and twenty years ago (Shusta et al., 2010, p. 42).
This increase in the number of minorities in law enforcement is attributed to many factors such as the increase in awareness...

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