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Lawyers’ Committee Statement on New Federal Report Addressing Need for Greater Diversity in Law Enforcement

For Immediate Release October 5, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement regarding today’s release of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Joint Report, “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement”:

“Ensuring that law enforcement agencies reflect the racial diversity of the communities they serve must be a central component of any effort to achieve comprehensive policing reform,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Diversifying the ranks of law enforcement can help to strengthen relations with African American and other minority communities, restore trust and uproot racial bias. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) report, “Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement,” is an important tool for law enforcement agencies that need to expand racial diversity.”

The DOJ and the EEOC issued a joint report outlining strategies for advancing diversity in law enforcement. The timely report identifies barriers to diversity in law enforcement agencies and highlights promising practices that law enforcement agencies throughout the country have found to be effective at tackling these barriers.  Some of the practices highlighted by the report include:

  • Targeted recruitment efforts at racial minorities, women, and other individuals from underrepresented populations by creating partnerships with local schools, churches and community organizations to create a robust pipeline of potential applicants;
  • Involving community members from diverse backgrounds in recruitment and hiring processes;
  • Reevaluating barriers to hiring that may have a disproportionate impact on underrepresented groups such as information revealed during background checks; citizenship requirements; and written or physical examinations that do not correspond to job-related duties;
  • Increasing transparency and streamlining hiring and selection procedures, as well as offering assistance and preparation materials to assist applicants in preparing for application examinations; and
  • Undertaking efforts to retain qualified diverse officers by providing mentoring programs, leadership training and incentives such as temporary housing; financial bonuses for language skills; and the opportunity to work towards college credit while on the job.

The Lawyers’ Committee also urges law enforcement agencies to “ban the box” when considering applicants; and more careful consideration of police officers assigned to serve as School Resource Officers given their frequent impact with young people as they are considering potential future career paths.

The report is available at www.Justice.Gov/PoliceDiversity or www.EEOC.Gov/PoliceDiversity.

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice.  For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.


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