Race and Ethnicity in Law Enforcement Hiring 1 Race and ethnicity play a significant role in law enforcement. This is true in both how communities are policed, as well as what the racial and ethnic make up is of a law enforcement entity. On the application at the police department I work for, there is verbiage that says, “Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. ” Why is this present? It may be that the department really does want women and minorities to apply, (I believe this is the case) but the reason the phrase is on the application, is primarily because of federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Law enforcement has traditionally had an over representation of both Caucasian male applicants. Due to this dichotomy, the E. E. O. C. who enforces Title VII recommends employers place verbiage in their application process that specifically encourages under represented groups to apply for job openings. I think it’s both healthy and smart for a police force to be made up of personnel that have similarities to the community it serves. Not only does it bring different perspectives to the force, it also has at least the potential to bring greater respect and credibility to the department’s actions within that community.
There are likely law enforcement agencies in this county who have the same phrase in their application solely because it mitigates the chances of their hiring practices being challenged in court under Title VII. These agencies may not have any allegiance to the principal or goal of the statement; nor have any real intentions to hire those applicants. In many departments the standardization of hiring processes seeks to prevent personal biases and favoritism.
However, these standardized processes and tests have also drawn criticism, with some claiming a disparate impact being present often either in the construction of the test or variances in the minimum qualifications. ” Disparate impact is 2 defined as, “A theory of liability that prohibits an employer from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class. A facially neutral employment practice is one that does not appear to be discriminatory on its face; rather it is one that is discriminatory in its application or effect. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex, 2012). For example, in 2008 a lawsuit was filed against the Connecticut State Police. The lawsuit argued that only candidates scoring 85% out of 100% on the written test were selected to continue on in the process, even though a score of 65% was considered passing. The lawsuit argued that this practice discriminated against minority groups due to the fact that 15% of the candidate pool was African American yet only 4% of the 15% tested at or above the 85% threshold; those who did not reach the 85% mark were disqualified from the process. (Gordon, T. 2008) Under [42 USC 2000E-2(K)(1)(A)(I)] (i) “A complaining party demonstrates that a respondent uses a particular employment practice that causes a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and the respondent fails to demonstrate that the challenged practice is job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. ” (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1964) Based on the numbers above, minority applicants in the process for the Connecticut State Police who were within the 65% to 85% range who were disqualified may well have had standing to sue.
In conclusion, law enforcement agencies should take into account the perception of the community they serve in relation to the make-up of their force. While this factor alone should not and cannot be the sole determining factor for the individuals who make 3 up a police force, it also shouldn’t be overlooked or dismissed. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies must structure their application processes to emulate what is necessary and required to do the job applied for.
Once a standard has been established, it can only be changed during a new process and after proper documentation and evidence as to why the change is necessary or beneficial to the processes. References Definition of Disparate Impact. (2012). The Free Dictionary by Farlex. Retrieved on August 20th 2012 from: http://legal-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/Disparate+Impact Gordon, T. (2008). “Lawyer: Trooper Exam Unfair: Cutoff Score In Test To Join State Police Called Discriminatory”. The Hartford Courant. Retrieved on August 19th 2012 from: http://articles. courant. com/2008-02- 9/news/0802290305_1_troopers-group-black-legislators-connecticut-state-police Schwartz, D. A. (2008). Lawsuit to be Filed over State Police Hiring Practices; A Primer on Disparate Impact Theory. Connecticut Employment Law Blog. Retrieved on August 19th 2012 from: http://www. ctemploymentlawblog. com/2008/02/articles/lawsuit-to-be-filed-over- state-police-hiring-practices-a-primer-on-disparate-impact-theory/ Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (1964). Employment Discrimination. West Warick. Retrieved on August 20th 2012 from: http://www. ri. net/schools/West_Warwick/EPG/docs/-Title%20VII. html