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Active Representation and Police Response to Sexual Assault Complaints

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
14 pages
Since there has been little research on the interaction among racial and gender diversity in police personnel, the organizational characteristics of police agencies, and agency responses to sexual assault complaints, this research used a national sample of police organizations reporting to both LEMAS and NIBRS to examine this issue.
Policing has long been a profession dominated by white males. Yet, the organizational literature suggests that diverse public sector organizations are essential to a well-functioning democracy. Representative bureaucracy theory is the idea that public agencies should mirror the society in which they function, in order to best meet the needs of its citizens. There are three necessary conditions in order for representative bureaucracy theory to be applicable to a problem. First, bureaucrats must have discretion in decision-making. Next, bureaucrats must exercise discretion in a policy area that has important implications for the group they represent. Finally, bureaucrats must be directly associated with the decisions they make. Given that police work requires extraordinary discretion, representation holds great importance for police organizations. There has, however, been scant literature examining the interaction between representation, organizational characteristics of police agencies, and situational characteristics of sexual assault incidents. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: August 1, 2017