Due to recent calls to increase the diversity of America's police forces, this study examined the impact of agency and leadership diversification on officer job satisfaction and reported perceptions of fairness within the organization, which are known to influence retention and performance.
The study found that diversification in agency leadership positions improved perceptions of fairness among all officers, and it ameliorated some feelings of unfairness among African-American officers. Diversification of the sworn ranks, in comparison to the population of the community, however, was not found to significantly affect the outcome measures. These results show the importance of the retention and promotion of more diverse leadership in police agencies. These findings are based on a survey of 15,236 officers representing 88 agencies, as well as other agency-level and community-level variables. Multi-level models were used to assess how these individual and agency variables, including measures of diversification, affected job satisfaction and perceptions of fairness. The study examined only the effects of diversification on officer perceptions. Still, this study is one of the first to assess the effects of diversification in such a large sample of agencies of all types and sizes throughout the United States. Future studies that link measures of diversification to citizen perceptions are needed in order to understand how members of the public respond to the image and characteristics of sworn personnel in their communities. (Publisher abstract modified)
National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
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Report (Grant Sponsored)
United States of America