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Attracting Females and Racial/Ethnic Minorities to Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2009 Pages: 333-341
Date Published
August 2009
9 pages

Using a national survey of law enforcement agencies, this study determined agencies' ability to fill sworn positions, the strategies used to attract and hire females and minorities, agencies' success in filling sworn positions with females and minorities, and the impact of agency strategies and agency/jurisdiction characteristics on levels of female and minority applications and hires.


The findings show significant variation in agencies' ability to fill sworn positions and to fill them with females and minorities. There was also considerable variation in the extent to which mechanisms were being used to attract females and minorities to policing. Only one in five agencies has adopted targeted recruitment strategies for women and minorities. Ten percent of the agencies reported that less than 90 percent of their positions were filled in 2002. Understaffing was most prevalent in the smallest and the largest agencies. More large than small agencies reported targeting recruitment strategies at women and minorities. Half of the smallest agencies (1-20 sworn personnel) reported no female applications and no minority applicants during the 3-year period (1999, 2000, and 2001) examined. The largest agencies reported, on average, 1.3 female and 3.4 minority applicants for each open position. Median percentages of vacant positions filled with female and minority hires were 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The ability to attract minorities was dependent on their representation in the residential population. The findings confirmed that higher recruiting budgets brought in more female and minority applications and also produced more female and minority hires. In drawing the survey sample, all State law enforcement agencies were selected. Within the municipal and county agencies, the sampling frame was divided into strata based on region of the country. The gross response rate was 46 percent (985 agencies). 5 tables, 4 notes, and 64 references

Date Published: August 1, 2009