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Determinants of Minority Employment in American Municipal Police Agencies: The Representation of African American Officers

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 26 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 1998 Pages: 267-277
J Zhao; N Lovrich
Date Published
11 pages
This study identifies and empirically tests the key factors assumed to be associated with the noteworthy increase in African- American officers in U.S. municipal police agencies.
Using data collected on a representative sample of police departments that serve populations of 25,000 and over across the country (n=281), a path analysis statistical method was used to assess both the direct and indirect influences of these hypothesized explanatory variables. Data were also obtained from a corresponding municipal clerk survey, and the African-American population of the cities surveyed was obtained from the U.S. 1990 Census of Population: General Population Characteristics. The explanatory factors examined were the African-American representation, the affirmative action explanation, the political explanation (the key role of the mayor), and the institutional explanation (the role of the police chief). The primary finding is that the size of the African-American population is the predominant contributor to a statistical model that accounts for the substantial variation in the representation of African- American officers in U.S. cities. Moreover, a black police chief is also a significant figure in determining the outcome of personnel policies that affect hiring. Similar to findings reported in previous studies, the results of this study also indicate that the relationship between these explanatory variables and the hiring of black officers is dynamic over time. Other hypothesized factors were less important than is generally believed. 3 tables, 5 notes, and 43 references