90% of law enforcement officials within the state of Michigan are white – why it’s a challenge to make the police more representative

Experts see the increasing diversity within the police force as a Key solution to cut back racial bias in traffic stops, arrest rates, and police-involved shootings.

But while police authorities have invested in recruiting more ethnic minorities and ladies, progress in diversifying police forces has been slower than the general public wants.

As a researcher who works with police authorities to enhance their hiring processes, I’m at all times in search of insights into methods to speed up this progress.

Customer loyalty is essential

An essential strategy is to retain recruits throughout their training period. After all, recruiting diverse trainees is of little use in the event that they never graduate from the academy and enter police service.

To learn more about why some trainees drop out of their training, my co-authors and I investigated Data on fluctuation from 88 years from the academy that trains patrol officers for the Michigan State Police.

Our foremost finding is that attrition in Michigan is strongly related to economic trends, with dropout rates increasing when the general economy is prospering. However, we also found higher attrition rates amongst women and ethnic and racial minorities who entered college between 2001 and 2022. This coincided with a big increase in attrition across all groups starting around 2014.

The loss of those candidates had an impact. The Michigan State Police reported that its sworn officers shall be was 90% white in a state where the population is 77% white.

The Michigan State Police has long struggled to keep up a various workforce. It hired its first black police officer in 1967, but operated under a settlement—a court-ordered plan to deal with discrimination findings—from 1977 to 1993, with the trend of declining diversity a Cause for concern within the last decade.

In addition to diversification, many police authorities have also critical staff shortagewith a decline in civil servants by 19.6% in Michigan from 2001 to 2023. Staffing shortages require current law enforcement officials to work long hours, resulting in higher burnout and potentially slower response times. Although there’s some evidence that The hiring rate is more likely to have increased within the last 12 monthsChallenges remain.

So how can recruiters be sure that minorities and ladies complete police training and make the transition to becoming law enforcement officials?

Police work is complex

To answer this query, it is useful to think about the demands of police work.

A effective police officer requires extensive knowledge, skills and skills. You must have the opportunity to master legal procedures, make quick decisions and handle stress while maintaining integrity and empathy. You should have excellent verbal communication and interpersonal skills. You must deescalate violence and luxury the traumatized.

In order to defuse dangers and rescue injured people, physical strength and fitness are essential.

Mental health is critical, especially given the increased attention given to stopping police violence. Police must maintain high standards even when understaffed.

During a study with the Michigan State Police, my colleagues and I discovered that many candidates experience “culture shock” when faced with the demands of this job.

Policeman talks to two young girls.
A more diverse police workforce can only be achieved by retaining recruits throughout their training period.
Richard Hutchings/Getty

Family concerns in regards to the dangerous nature of the career and the truth of working night shifts and on public holidays contribute to many individuals's reluctance to use for or proceed training.

Research also shows that ethnic and racial minorities less likely that family and friends were law enforcement officials and subsequently have less insider knowledge about what the job entails.

Agencies are Overcoming these challenges with preparation programs that help individuals understand the demands of this demanding job before they’re hired. They also take care of the recruits' families, provide support and place emphasis on the soldiers' well-being from the beginning.

What repels, what attracts

My colleagues and I also examined how students pursuing a level in criminal justice resolve that policing is just not a viable option.

We found that they turned away from police work since the conditions and dealing hours were dangerous, they thought police work was pointless and so they had a foul image of the police.

Women and nonbinary people were about nine times more likely than their white male counterparts to rule out policing—and ethnic minority groups 40 times more more likely to accomplish that. Instead, these groups reported pursuing opportunities in federal policing, probation, corporate security, and the legal system.

Our data show that a few quarter of racial and ethnic minorities have explicitly expressed concerns about public distrust of the police and the opportunity of bias from each the general public (reminiscent of taunts and insults) and the organization when it comes to assignments and promotions.

Guidelines from the National Institute of Justice show that consistent communication regarding resources and support because diversity can increase attractiveness.

Research by my colleagues and me suggests Stronger message Emphasizing the worth of police work in Recruitment materials would encourage more ethnic minorities to use.

Authenticity and transparency required

Police departments often use photos of officers from ethnic and racial minorities of their promoting. These materials include statements about diversity and inclusion and highlight community engagement work.

These are evidence-based recruitment practices to signal an inclusive working environment to underrepresented people.

Research showsHowever, policing has grow to be a stigmatised career, with declining moral credibility and undermining trust. Recruitment should be adapted to this reality.

Police departments are sometimes criticized for his or her inconsistent and disingenuous reporting on diversity, sometimes known as “Diversity Dishonesty.”

Many recruits find it dishonest to make use of stock photos to create a narrative that doesn't exist. Effective community recruitment requires authentic discussions about public distrust surrounding shootings, arrests, and other incidents the general public perceives as racially motivated involving law enforcement officials.

Our research outside of policing suggests that the general public gives more weight to things like negative online reviews and fewer importance to references to minority representation or statements about diversity.

The challenge of adjusting the image of the career and individual agencies is great. Studies show Public apologies have little effect on public support for the police, as plans for future change are sometimes unspecific and without clear accountability.

However, transparency about past critical incidents locally and reform efforts will be helpful.

For example, the Michigan State Police has an internet site that focuses specifically on providing information the general public with information on personnel, funding, policies, traffic controls, use of force and more.

Avoiding topics reminiscent of race and police history, especially amongst members of underrepresented populations, breeds mistrust and inevitably harms efforts to diversify the police force.

image credit : theconversation.com