(Frederickson, 2000, p. 3) Police forces became the fodder for systematic research on the need for and development of improved minority representation in public service as well as a frequently attached public entity with regard to minority status in the community. (Frederickson, 2000, p. 3) As early as the 1960s and 70s police forces all over the nation began to be scrutinized for limiting their hiring pool to white males and began to make changes to support the reduction of this reality. (Broadnax, 2000, p. xx)
The development of police forces within the guidelines of public scrutiny as one of the most significant and public hiring authorities in the public sector has created a hiring protocol that though variant to some degree is similar in most agencies and is reflective of public demand for diversity in representation. Many would likely call the last frontier of this more egalitarian hiring process the active recruitment and hiring of American's with disabilities as modern definitions and understanding of disabilities broadens and more reactively responds to reality. Of course the police force cannot reasonable hire a beat cop who is in a wheelchair, at this stage, line of duty accidents as well as other community action oriented situations have forced the police force to take a closer look at where and when these individuals can be productively employed within the department and how they must change policy to accommodate this change. There was a time not long ago where an individual if injured on the job was automatically assumed to go home and collect pension, if any permanent disability was garnered from the event. This is clearly changing as police departments adapt to full diversity on the force and respond to the 1992 ADA as well as other legislation. Even today, when affirmative action policies are going on notice for reevaluation police forces will likely be the last vestiges as they were the first to reassess the policies and procedures of affirmative action hiring as again they are the most public of the public service agencies and have the most scrutiny with regard to public demand for hiring fairness. (Kogut & Short, 2007, p. 197) This is true despite the fact that only a small percentage of police forces work under the direct jurisdiction of the federal government as accountability to fairness is seen as essential and core to police service. The truth of this sentiment is well established and fully supported in many groups especially as disparities, especially regarding race are a persistent and growing line of inquiry in the research associated with policing and corrections. "Minorities are gravely over-represented in every stage of the criminal process -- from pedestrian and automobile stops, to searches and seizures, to arrests and convictions, to incarceration and capital punishment." (Luna, 2003, p. 183)
Police departments to some degree, are called upon to respond to this disparity, even though their recruitment and hiring practices are only the most public of the aspects of the problem. In other words, there may be a time when affirmative action according to community demand is even more stringently enforced in policing than it is today, to help publicly mitigate the many and varied reasons for institutional discrimination in policing and corrections. The whole of the public has yet to formally respond to the extreme minority disparities in police enforcement and corrections but it is likely that the day is coming when they will and police departments will likely be at the head of the class in an attempt to help resolve some of these persistent problems.
Broadnax, W.D. (Ed.). (2000). Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Frederickson, H.G. (2000). Part One Representative Bureaucracy and Equal Employment Opportunity. In Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service, Broadnax, W.D. (Ed.) (pp. 1-4). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Hahn, H., & Jeffries, J.L. (2003). Urban America and Its Police: From the Postcolonial Era through the Turbulent 1960s. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.
Kogut, C.A., & Short, L.E. (2007). Affirmative Action in Federal Employment: Good Intentions Run Amuck?. Public Personnel Management, 36(3), 197.
Kurke, M.I. & Scrivner, E.M. (Eds.). (1995). Police Psychology into the 21st Century. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.