Importance of Police Culture & Diversity Essay

Introduction

The issue regarding the significance of police culture has been widely discussed in academic literature. Researchers place emphasis on the impact of diversity on different areas of human activity, including policing (Kenney & McNamara, 2009; Mitchell, 2010). In fact, the institutionalized racism continues to exist in human society. It would be logical to conclude that racism has a strong impact on the law enforcement community. According to Dennis Jay Kenney and Robert P. McNamara (2009), “when examining the impacts of diversity, we should begin by exploring and investigating the kinds of effects diversity and affirmative action might be expected to have on the culture of law enforcement” (p. 194). Today many minority police officers face certain challenges in individual police departments; therefore, the dynamics of the police culture plays an important role in the functioning of local police unions. Besides, it influences the public perception of police departments. The sources used in this paper are credible. Each source provides much important information on the issue. The authors have a deep understanding of the role of police culture in addressing diversity-related issues.  Thesis statement: Police culture plays an important role in diversity context, providing an opportunity to address race and diversity-related issues in a proper way. The major goal of this paper is to analyze and discuss the pertinent background, concerns, issues, and proposed solutions to the issue selected, namely the issue of police culture and diversity.

The background of the issue

The issue of diversity is not a new one. In the police, misunderstanding of the concept of diversity influences the staff functioning. According to researchers, “the lack of definitional clarity over the concept of diversity inevitably makes it more complicated for staff from different agencies to work seamlessly together, particularly on practice-related matters” (Mitchell, 2010, p.60). Besides, diversity influences the effectiveness of multiagency practice. As a matter of fact, diversity of individuals’ lifestyles, beliefs, values and choices can become a foundation for effective partnership in policing. Police staff members should be taught to respect diversity, reducing the rate of offending and increasing valuing difference.

In addition, the current legislation, which can be applied to any police agency or team, encourages police officers to take positive action, following gender, race, disability equality principles, duties and responsibilities and providing the basis for effective development of diversity training programs. These policies contribute to “equal opportunities in employment and promotion” (Mitchell, 2010, p.60).

Some concerns and issues regarding police culture and diversity

Today police staff encounters considerable problems connected with transporting diversity policy into routine professional practices. Some experts explain these concerns by the lack of adequate resources and improper police culture. They argue that “it is important to recognize that many of the diversity dilemmas that professionals across the criminal justice system face cannot be resolved or answered by appealing to the diversity policies of their agencies” (Mitchell, 2010, p. 61). Police culture is based on establishing effective strategies aimed at reducing and explaining police deviance. Researchers describe the nature of police culture using the terms that refer to the specific nature of police work. Police officers have to confront certain problems connected with their working environment, including social isolation, being suspicious, group loyalty, etc. These factors can be used to give explanation to police deviance.

Actually, not all aspects of current police culture are negative. It is necessary to apply the values and norms of police staff in order to give explanation to the existing “concerns regarding police racism, sexism and homophobia” (Rowe, 2013, p. 127). For example, one of the common concerns is the problem of racial prejudice among a large number of junior police officers. Experts explain this concern as the “rotten apples perspective”, which associated the existing concern with some negative prejudices in the workplace context, or stereotyping based on racist views of police staff. The victims are minority officers who have no influence on the police agency because of their low position. The growth of police studies points out to the fact that the idea of police culture is effective. Police culture should be based on ethical principles, follow the established traditions of the police agency and improve task environment, reducing unethical behavior and unproductive practices (Rowe, 2013; Burns, 2008 ).

The proposed solutions to the issue

There are many effective solutions to the issue of diversity in the police. For example, based on the established Race Equality Schemes, it is possible to improve local police authority plans. Police culture provides an opportunity for effective integration of diversity into the functioning of law enforcement agencies (Huisman et al., 2005). However, in many law enforcement agencies, diversity-related issues are not properly addressed. Diversity dilemmas that arise in the organization should be resolved in ways that are appropriate for use of equality/diversity programs and policies (Burns, 2008). Police staff members should be ready to make correct decisions based on the established principles of agency’s policy aimed at achieving diversity in the workplace.

Cultural explanation of institutional racism in police involves the lack of contract between white police officers and black police officers. According to Kimberly Huisman and colleagues (2005), “teaching about domestic violence and racism is a formidable task that requires the inclusion of material that challenges dominant ideologies about race and gender”(792). Researchers have found that the recent training for police staff regarding violence and racism can be used as a good example of the ways to address challenges caused by improper police culture. According to Bethan Loftus (2009), police culture requires the knowledge of the established informal norms and values that shape everyday police practices, including decisions and behaviors. Effective training programs help to create healthy working environment, avoid the acts of discrimination and harassment based on diversity of individuals, including race, skin color, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. The professional Code of Ethics can help police staff to address diversity-related issues (Huisman et al., 2005). For example, it is crucial for any police officer to treat his/her colleague fairly, avoiding discrimination and respecting diversity to meet the appropriate needs, challenging resist language, promoting anti-sexist behaviors.

Conclusion

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the issue regarding police culture and diversity is an important one. Some concerns regarding police culture and diversity include police violence, prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. Today any police department should develop effective training programs, which can help to address these concerns and create healthy working environment. Recent research shows that police officers display negative patterns of behavior. Undoubtedly, police culture should be improved to address ethical issues, which involve diversity dilemmas. For example, the use of racist language should be forbidden. In this case, police disciplinary procedures should be implemented properly.

 

 

 References

Burns, R. (2008). Critical Issues in Criminal Justice (1st ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

Huisman, K., Martinez, J., Wilson, C. (2005). “Training Police Officers on Domestic Violence and Racism: Challenges and Strategies,” Violence against Women, 11 (6): 792-821.

Kenney, D. J. & McNamara, R. P. (2009).Police and Policing: Contemporary Issues. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Loftus, B. (2009). “Police occupational culture: classic themes, altered times,” Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 20(1): 1-20.

Mitchell, M. (2010). “Diversity and police agenda in criminal justice” in Multi-agency Working in Criminal Justice: Control and Care in Contemporary Correctional Practice, ed. by Aaron Pycroft and Dennis Gough. Policy Press.

Rowe, M. (2013).Introduction to Policing. SAGE.

 

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[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

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