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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Chattanooga Police Department Recognized In Newly Released Justice Department And Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Advancing Diversity In Law Enforcement Report

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – 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 Chattanooga Police Department was recognized for its retention efforts, using community partnerships and stakeholder engagement to help retain officers of color and women by better understanding the unique challenges they face in the profession.  By partnering with stakeholders outside of the agency just as they do in recruitment, law enforcement agencies can diagnose the barriers in their practices, policies, or systems that too often prevent or discourage officers from staying on the job. Such partnerships allow the agency to take a holistic and comprehensive approach to diversity, often drawing connections and replicating outreach efforts in retention that they use in recruitment. By demonstrating that the law enforcement agency is invested in, and connected with the community, it can help improve public trust and allow officers to view their jobs as a meaningful and honorable long-term career.

The Chattanooga Police Department uses its Recruiting, Engagement, Selection, Transfer, Assignment, and Retention Team (RESTART) to bring together community members, academics, officers, command staff, union officials, and human resource professionals to “ensure equity and aggressively support diversity” in a range of practices, including those related to retention, assignment, and transfer practices. Through this effort, the department is currently in the process of reforming its promotion standards.

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 the agencies serve, address language barriers to serve all residents, make agencies more open to reform and potentially reduce racial bias.

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 entire report is available through the following link: www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/file/900761/download.

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 police.diversity@usdoj.gov.

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Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Updated October 5, 2016