Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, September 25, 2006

Race and gender by the numbers

The Human Resources Department's latest EEO quarterly report on the police department's sworn employees reflects several trends which deviated from those found in previous reports.

For the first time, the increase in male officers in the department is not being driven by the proportional increase of White male officers. The net increase in the number of both Asian-American and Black male officers is largely responsible for the 0.32% increase shown since earlier figures were released in January 2006. The department experienced a net increase of three Black officers and two Asian-American officers, all men in the past nine months. That is definitely good news, because traditionally those are racial groups in the department that have been underrepresented in terms of hiring. The fastest growing racial group in Riverside is Asian-Americans, so it's encouraging that the department has shown some signs of tapping into pools where more candidates are found, causing the number of officers belonging to this racial group to triple in several years.

For Black officers, the female officers tend to be proportionately higher in their representation in the department than their male counterparts. This is the only ethnic or racial group in which this is the case, although the recent increase in the number of Black male officers has lessened this advantage somewhat.

During the past several years, the police department has struggled to hire and retain Black officers. One of the reasons was that the department has struggled with the issues of racism within its ranks including a discrimination, harassment and retaliation claim that received national attention in 1999, and along with other problems caused qualified candidates to look elsewhere first. More recently, a civil jury delivered a verdict of $1.64 million in connection with a racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation law suit filed in 2000 by Black officer, Roger Sutton which may soon receive closure. Many local Black candidates instead have sought employment as law enforcement officers in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department or the Corona Police Department and have avoided the Riverside Police Department and all its publicized racial problems altogether. This past hiring period for Black officers has been better than in previous years, but it remains to be seen whether it is a trend or not.

The number of Black female officers have tripled in the past three years, but their growth is still slow in terms of numbers.

Since the retirement last year of its only American Indian officer, Lt. Alex Tortes, the department has had no officers in this racial group.

For many law enforcement organizations, the issue of how to recruit and hire officers has received a lot of attention. Even as many law enforcement agencies grapple with racism and sexism, there is a push to bring more men of color and women into these agencies as law enforcement officers. Qualified Black and Latino officers can often be the subject of intense competition by different agencies to hire them, so on the surface the agencies look more diverse. Whether they each address the issues that impact retention rates of these men and women remain to be seen, however.

Different advocacy organizations have tackled these issues in different ways.

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives has addressed the issue of recruiting Black officers at its Web site. NOBLE's leadership recommended that recruiters should target predominantly Black colleges and universities with a campaign for recruiting candidates to become law enforcement officers. This would be done through job fairs, lectures and workshops.

NOBLE recruiting efforts

The hiring of women, particularly women of color by police agencies has been problematic, and many departments including the Riverside Police Department have been the subject of law suits by female officers alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Although, law enforcement is not alone in facing this problem. Today, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a discrimination and harassment claim being filed by a female employee of the Los Angeles Fire Department, which could lead to the first gender discrimination/harassment class action law suit in that department's history.

L.A. Fire Captain files discrimination claim (registered site)

The National Organization of Women and Policing which advocates for female law enforcement officers has come out with a handbook which is full of information on how police departments can improve their hiring of women as well as identify and eliminate obstacles within law enforcement agencies that hinder their retention. It addresses issues such as working while pregnant, sexual harassment, mentoring programs for women, preparing for physical agility tests and other topics.

Several years ago, a representative from this organization approached both the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department to offer the organization's assistance on the issue of the recruitment and retention of female officers in their agencies. The reaction from both agencies was not surprising, but very disappointing.

The response from the sheriff's department was disinterest, even though at that time Sheriff Bob Doyle had convened a panel of community members from throughout the county to discuss and come up with guidelines addressing the issues of recruitment, retention and diversity in law enforcement both in terms of race and gender.

The response from the representative from the police department was not indifference, but more close to hostility. At the time, the percentage of female officers in this police department was still higher than it is now even though there had been no net gain in female officers in four years. Still, it apparently believed there were no problems or at least not any worthy of its concern anyway.

However more recently, Officer Cheryl Hayes, herself a Black female officer, said at a recruiting fair in July that the department was working on the creation of mentoring and support programs for female officers, as well as male officers and the families of officers employed by the police department which is a good use of resources that should reap dividends. A former dispatcher, Hayes had also related accounts of how she was able to talk women who had originally expressed an interest in a dispatcher position into deciding to become police officers. Hayes and other female officers offer faces for other women to look towards as examples when considering whether or not to go into the profession.

Recruiting and Retaining Women

In previous reports, Latino male officers have experienced the highest increases, although the percentage of officers in the department(@18%) is still less than half of that that reflects the city of Riverside. Unfortunately, for the first time in several years, there has been no net increase in the number or percentage of Latino officers. In fact, the percentage of Latino officers in the department has dropped for the first time in recent years.

The situation is more worrisome for Latina officers, who have not experienced any net increases in several years, even when their male counterparts were greatly increasing in number.

There are currently no women of color above the officer level.

Another law enforcement agency, Denver Police Department had struggled with the issue of diversifying its police department and was the subject of an EEOC complaint filed by the Latino Police Officers Association, Denver chapter. This article written by addressed this law suit, from a perspective that was mostly cautious, and obviously written from a perspective that is common in law enforcement.

The author raises some interesting points.

This case raises many interesting questions. Do we want a diverse workforce, or do we want the best, most qualified workforce possible? Can they be the same thing?

What's interesting about it is that the author actually considers the idea that "diversity" and "best, most qualified" are not necessarily mutually exclusive factors, that they can exist together and he actually asks the questions, which is good. Too often, the assumption in law enforcement agencies is that White and male equates "most qualified" simply because the vast majority of law enforcement officers are White men, and the majority of the pools that departments hire from are composed of mostly White men. Not surprising given that it is White male officers who most often come up with these recruitment pools.

He then asks this question.

Do we look at the overall community, or the available and eligible work force?

What follows is where he makes his mistake in his reasoning.

The author defeats his own argument by targeting the area of recruitment for his challenges against "diversity hiring". Recruitment involves measures taken not so much to hire individual police officers in a department, but to increase the pool in which that department taps into in order to hire those individual officers. Whether or not the pool in question fully represents all the qualified candidates that exist is what should be addressed. If it is not, then steps should be taken to address that problem and to broaden that pool or seek out other pools that offer other possibilities.

For example, if you are a recruiter looking for talented candidates at primarily air shows, base ball stadiums, auto shows and military installations, then you will be missing your opportunities to access many talented candidates who are female. Many of these events are primarily attended by men and if women are there, they are usually with men which may not provide the best opportunity at that time to tell them about the job opportunities at your law enforcement agency. Military installations have a larger women's pool especially women(as well as men) of color but those pools have decreased in recent years due to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, there needs to be effort made to discover the "pools" where these talented female candidates are more plentiful. Educational institutions are one place to look. Sponsoring female oriented career expos is another method.

Unfortunately, that is not what happens here. The author does not appear to see the status quo pools as the problem which needs further examination.

He argues that the pool should be filled with the most talented, "qualified" officers but then seems resistant to increasing that pool so that it includes more men of color and women who fall in that category. If the author were truly interested in diversifying the law enforcement work force in a way that would avoid the dreaded consent decree(which should not be the main priority), it would seem that he would welcome the chance to implement changes at the recruitment level to diversify the pool of qualified individuals so that it would increase the "available and eligible work forces" coming from the communities he mentions. Any resistance to that seems geared more towards protecting the status quo and presenting it as the only legitimate recruiting pool, then blaming any lack of men of color or women in law enforcement agencies as being due to "low numbers" in the recruitment pool.

Recruitment and often racial and gender disparities begin in other "pools" including those geared towards youth.

Explorer programs for teenagers have traditionally been a mechanism used in recruiting future officers. However, the racial and gender breakdown of many explorer programs matches that found in many law enforcement agencies and the recruitment pools that explorers are often drawn from do as well. Irvine Police Department and Baltimore Police Department state on their Web sites that one of the goals of their explorer programs is as a recruitment tool, though their sites do not explain their recruitment policies. Most Web sites pertaining to law enforcement explorers programs do include a creed that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or ethnicity. Missing from this list are often sexual orientation and religion, not surprising given that many explorer programs are at least indirectly connected or sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America which has a history of either banning atheists and/or gays and lesbians from their scouting troops or discouraging their participation.

It's interesting to see the arguments raised by individuals who try to state that they are concerned about diversity in law enforcement yet they apparently believe that White men have some sort of claim on the qualifications of being a police officer, simply because the current methods of recruitment(and many might say testing) are geared to them, namely because these same methods were created by White men. They seem to have difficulty believing that the possibility exists that there are many Asian-American, American Indian, Black, biracial, multiracial and Latino men and women as well as White female police candidates out there who do not get hired by these law enforcement agencies because either these agencies keep fishing in the same ponds, or they do not understand(or even care) how to go out and change their recruitment tactics to broaden their pools in which to recruit from.

This article's main intent, appeared to be a blanket warning to other agencies to avoid consent decrees in relation to what it called, "minority oriented" hiring, which is very unfortunate coming from a self-identified recruiter who began his article on a better tract. It is true that Denver Police Department had been facing some scrutiny from the Department of Justice's civil rights division in 2004, but it did not appear to be directly related to diversity issues in its hiring practices.

Partial Stats: (% difference from Jan. 2006 figures)

By Gender:

Male: 353/387 91.22% (+0.32)

Asian-American: 7

Black: 25

Hispanic: 69

White: 252

American Indian: 0

Female: 34/387 8.78%(-0.32)

Total: 34

Asian-American 1

Black: 3

Latino: 4

White: 26

American Indian: 0

Women by Rank:

Officer: 19

Detective: 9(all white)

Sergeant: 5(all White)

Lieutenant: 0

Captain: 1(White)

By Ethnicity and Race:

Asian-American: 8/387 2.1% (+0.5)

Male: 7
Female: 1

All officers

Black: 28/387 7.2% (+0.5)

Male: 25
Female: 3

Captain: 1(male)

Lieutenants: 2(both male)

Sergeant: 4(all male)

Detectives: 3(all male)

Officers: 18(three female)

Hispanic: 71/387 18.3% (-0.6)

Male: 67
Female: 4

Deputy Chiefs: 2 (both male)

Captains: 1 (male)

Lieutenants: 4 (all male)

Sergeants: 8 (all male)

Detectives: 10 (all male)

Officers: 48 (four female)

White: 280/387 72.3% (-0.5)

Male: 254
Female: 26

American Indian: 0/387 0% (0.0)

Male: 0

Female: 0


Riverside by ethnicity and race

(source: U.S. census, 2000)

Asian-American: 5.68%

Black: 7.41%

Hispanic: 38.14%

Native American: 1.09%

Pacific Islander: 0.39%

Two or more races: 5.10%

Other races: 21.0%

Riverside by gender:

Male: 49.3%

Female: 50.7%


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