U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Fostering Diversity in a Police Agency, From Bottom to Top

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $790,298)

Calls for a police workforce that is diverse with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender date back many years and are well supported by empirical research, and the challenges in achieving such diversity have also been long recognized. This project is designed to illuminate the forces that influence racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in recruitment, pre-employment screening, training, and organizational advancement. It addresses the extent to which racial and ethnic minorities — particularly Blacks and Hispanics — have not enjoyed equal opportunity in police employment and advancement in rank, the barriers to equality in those opportunities, and systemic steps that will facilitate equal and enhanced access.

Through a partnership with the New York State Police, researchers will examine patterns and changes over time in the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of applicants, recruits, sworn members, and sworn members of higher ranks, and the systemic and individual factors that influence the patterns. The inquiry will draw on nearly 20 years of agency data, and primary data in the form of pre- and post-employment panel surveys of and/or interviews with applicants and sworn officers. The research plan includes several components.

First, researchers will perform a retrospective (2007-2022) and prospective (through 2026) examination of recruitment, including the composition (i.e., their race, ethnicity, and gender) of applicants to take the entrance examination and patterns of attrition at subsequent stages of the recruitment process. Second, researchers will evaluate the impacts of 2022 changes in recruitment outreach and testing. Third, researchers will perform a retrospective and prospective examination of patterns of performance and attrition during basic training, during field training, while in probationary status, and subsequently. Fourth, researchers will conduct a retrospective and prospective examination of patterns of ascension to the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant. Fifth, researchers will describe the organizational pathways that would be prescribed for the optimal acquisition of experiences that develop leadership skills and traits. Sixth, and finally, researchers will assess the effects on retention and advancement of the steps taken to better and more systematically support the development of leadership traits and skills among a more diverse group of commissioned officers, which will be specified in a strategic plan later in 2022. Expected outcomes include improved diversity at multiple levels of the agency, and from the empirical evidence generated, lessons for police agency diversification in the United States generally.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 27, 2022