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Diversifying Police Forces Doesn't Help Clearance Rates, Study Says

Increasing minority representation in policing may not help police clearance crimes involving minority victims. says a new study.

Crime clearance rates are alarmingly low, only about 45%, even among serious violent offenses.

Diversification might be viewed cynically as another police agency reform that is primarily political or ceremonial in nature, rather than leading to any meaningful impact on organizational performance.

It is also possible to view the lack of an association in a more encouraging light, wrote Aki Roberts and Hannah R. Smith of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in Criminology & Public Policy.

There is strong pressure from the public, and sometimes from lawmakers as well, on police agencies to

increase their ethnic and racial diversity, the authors said.

In New Jersey, for example, legislation directs civil service authorities to engage in proactive efforts to make police agencies’ composition more representative of the communities that the agencies serve.

Momentum toward demographic reform of police agencies will continue, whether or not diversification is associated with clearance rates.

Opponents of affirmative action have argued that diversification can have a detrimental impact on agency performance, contending that one consequence of the push to diversify agencies will be lowered recruiting standards, leading to worse police work overall.

While the study does not suggest a benefit of diversity on clearance rates, neither does it indicate that clearance suffers under increased diversity.

To increase diversity more effectively, police agencies should focus on all stages of recruitment, hiring, and retention, Roberts and Smith say.


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