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Press Release

Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Release Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement Report

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a comprehensive report today that examines barriers and promising practices – in recruitment, hiring and retention – for advancing diversity in law enforcement.  The report, developed with support from the Center for Policing Equity, aims to provide law enforcement agencies, especially small and mid-size agencies, with a resource to enhance the diversity of their workforce by highlighting specific strategies and efforts in place in police departments around the country.   

The department and EEOC engaged with dozens of law enforcement leaders, officials and officers; researchers; civil rights advocates and other experts to produce the report.  The report, which builds on the recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, notes that while greater workforce diversity alone cannot ensure fair and effective policing, a significant – and growing – body of evidence suggests that diversity can make policing more effective, more safe and more just.  For example, among other benefits, increasing diversity can improve relations with the communities agencies serve, address language barriers to serve all residents, make agencies more open to reform and potentially reduce racial bias.

“This report is a resource for law enforcement agencies as they work to ensure that their ranks reflect the communities they serve – not simply by identifying the traditional barriers to a diverse work force, but also by highlighting real-world examples of law enforcement agencies that have effectively implemented smart policies in this area,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.  “We hope that law enforcement agencies will find this report useful in their ongoing efforts to strengthen trust with the broader community.”

“Ensuring that law enforcement agencies represent the diversity of the communities they serve can help restore trust and improve policing,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Building on innovative and creative strategies implemented by law enforcement around the country, our report highlights how agencies are bridging divides and creating lasting results.  We hope agencies utilize this resource as they strive to strengthen their diversity and we look forward to engaging with law enforcement on this critical topic over the coming months.”

“When law enforcement agencies remove barriers to equal opportunity, the agencies and the diverse communities that they serve both stand to benefit,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang.  “Departments from around the country have been working to build a robust and diverse talent pipeline to strengthen their workforce.  This report raises up some of the most promising recruitment and retention practices of these departments.”

The promising practices highlighted in this report vary considerably.  The report demonstrates, however, that successful diversity-building efforts by law enforcement agencies share several common themes, including:

  • ensuring that the agency’s organizational culture is guided by community policing, procedural justice and cultural inclusivity;
  • engaging stakeholders – both from within and outside the law enforcement agency – to help create a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community; and 
  • being willing to re-evaluate employment criteria, standards and benchmarks to ensure that they are tailored to the skills needed to perform job functions and  consequently attract, select and retain the most qualified and desirable sworn officers.

The full report is available online here

From October to December, the department and the EEOC will continue engaging with law enforcement by partnering with U.S. Attorneys around the country to host “Diversity Dialogues” in Madison, Wisconsin; Savannah, Georgia; and San Francisco.  These sessions will facilitate working-group discussions with local law enforcement agencies about how to address the barriers and implement the promising practices outlined in the report.  Members of law enforcement who would like to learn more about the Advancing Diversity in Law Enforcement initiative or the Diversity Dialogues, should email

Updated October 5, 2016

Press Release Number: 16-1153