Dated: Friday March 06, 2015
Numerous researchers have identified that African American and Latino law enforcement officers are severely under-represented in police agencies, with national estimates indicating that African Americans alone make up approximately 11 percent of all law enforcement officers employed. This lack of agency diversity was, in fact, determined to be an underlying factor in recent issues of community unrest in Ferguson, MO. And their employment in the State of Rhode Island appears to be significantly less than the national averages, with African American officers making up 5.89% of the Rhode Island law enforcement landscape.
For the past three months, under a commission received from the Providence Branch NAACP, NABLEO has been involved in a study of the recruitment methodologies in use by Rhode Island law enforcement agencies. Considered were such things as the precise numbers of African American and Latino law enforcement officers currently employed; their positioning in the various rank structures; the criteria utilized to screen potential candidates; the methods used to both publish and distribute recruiting information; and the strength of community outreach efforts for notification.
This study encompassed 36 of the 51 agencies (70%) listed under RI General Law as having arrest, search and seizure powers. Principal findings included the following:
- African American and Latino officers combined make up 13% of the total reported law enforcement positions currently employed
- African American and Latino police supervisory personnel combined comprised less than 5% of the total supervisory positions within law enforcement, with only two persons of color ranked above Captain
- Candidate screening procedures used do not appear to consider those personality and behavioral attributes that may lend themselves to racial profiling, police abuse and misconduct
- Publication and distribution of recruiting information appears to address only those areas that are endemic to the community the agency represents, rather than those demographic areas in which African American and Latino candidates are more readily found
- Inadequate levels of contact and outreach efforts made to, and with, significantly important core constituencies in communities of color for the purposes of informational transmission
The results of this study may have a dynamic impact on both the manner in which future police recruiting is conducted and police-community relationships as we know them today. These results should not, however, be construed to reflect the failures of law enforcement, but rather highlight those areas in need of improvement, missed opportunities, and suggest more creative and innovative methodologies, in order to make the recruiting process more viable and transparent.
While we recognize, acknowledge, and even applaud the efforts of agencies such as the Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police Department in their attempts at strengthening the diversity of their agencies, we believe the totality of the results of this study now call for a more radical approach in the recruitment of African American and Latino candidates to fill the various vacancies that occur within the Rhode Island law enforcement community.
It is with this in mind that the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, in partnership with the Providence Branch NAACP and the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies presents a program entitled “Identifying Barriers To Diversity in Law Enforcement: A Community Affair” to the Rhode Island law enforcement community and their community-based partners, in an effort to promote stronger methods for the recruitment of candidates of color for positions within the law enforcement profession. This training will seek to assist agencies and their community partners in identifying those issues which appear problematic and prepare action plans for correcting deficiencies in current recruitment programs.
Presented as a one-day intensified program, participants will gain better understandings of the need and usefulness of more culturally diverse organizations, more productive methodologies for attracting candidates, screening practices which may unfairly eliminate or deter otherwise successful candidates, and enhanced measures of community outreach while conducting recruiting campaigns. A discussion of recently completed research specific to Rhode Island law enforcement recruiting methodologies will also be presented. Hosted by the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies, located at 150 Washington Street, Providence, RI, this program will be presented on Friday, April 17, 2015 from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
Registration, per person, is $55.00 and may be completed online at http://conference.nableo.org. Attendance is open to all members of law enforcement and the general community. Pre-registration, which will include continental breakfast, lunch, all training materials and certificate of participation, is required and must be completed no later than 4:30 PM on Friday, April 10, 2015, however only the first 75 registrations will be accepted.
Questions concerning this program may be directed to Lieut. Charles P. Wilson, National Chairman, at 401-465-9152 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.
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