The emerging role of diversity officers in law enforcement


Increasingly, law enforcement organizations are embracing the position of a Diversity Officer, in response to internal and external environmental issues. There is, of course, more to this than appointing a person to the role. However, many departments are unclear how to utilize the position in support of organizational success.

To ensure the promise of the diversity program and the performance thereof agree, I suggest the following:

1.) Clearly Define the Diversity Officer’s Role
It is critical to clearly define the duties and the responsibilities for the position, with the understanding that the duties will evolve over time, based on ongoing environmental analysis. As most law enforcement organizations have very entrenched cultures, the role of the diversity officer must take into account the history of the organization, its values, norms, and traditions. In addition, the lines in the road need to be clear between the diversity officer and other offices, including internal affairs, human resources, community outreach, and ombudsman. 

2.) Command Level Position
The Diversity Officer must be a command level position, equivalent to other executives in the organization, and report directly to the Chief of Police. This is necessary to ensure the Diversity Officer has the ability to address trends, issues, and problems across the department without being hindered by rank or reporting structure. 

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