IACP Publication: A Symbol of Fairness and Neutrality, Policing Diverse Communities in the 21st Century

IACP Report - A Symbol of Fairness and NeutralityExecutive Summary:

At the direction of IACP President Joseph C. Carter, the IACP Executive Committee addressed “Policing Diverse Communities in the 21st Century” at its February 2007 meeting. In his challenge to the Executive Committee, President Carter noted the increased diversity and changed environment in our nation since IACP first examined racial profiling and bias-free policing in 1998. He called on the Executive Committee to identify a course of action for the future, stressing the critical demands for bias-free policing in light of the new challenges and complexities that the profession faces in the 21st century.

The Executive Committee divided into groups, selected to represent diverse law enforcement perspectives, agency types and sizes. In facilitated discussion sessions, each group identified areas of importance related to bias-free policing and diversity and recommended specific actions the IACP should take in the future – a Leadership Agenda. Key areas and recommendations included, but were not limited to:

  • Helping members play pivotal leadership roles by fostering national and local dialogues to forge workable, effective approaches to contemporary racial, ethnic, and cultural challenges.
  • Helping the profession to reassert that police officers in the United States and other democratic nations are symbols of fairness and neutrality and that they are the embodiment of the principles of democracy. By carefully defining their roles, police leaders can take proactive approaches to promote this message and depart from counterproductive defensive postures sometimes adopted in response to an allegation of biased policing.
  • Helping agencies develop better understanding of the culturally diverse communities they serve and more culturally competent methods for responding to and engaging them in public safety partnerships.
  • Continuing to promote greater cultural, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.

This report addresses many issues of diversity and racism that face our societies, elected officials, and police executives. Increasingly, these issues are taking on global dimensions. Few countries or regions are immune to ethnic, racial, or class strife; and combating problems such as human trafficking or smuggling will require international solutions. Clearly, there are no simple solutions to these complex issues. The IACP Executive Committee, however, has identified a number of critical considerations for police executives to examine when addressing diversity issues. These considerations must be addressed simultaneously at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels by elected and public officials, as well as by civic institutions responsible for promoting democracy. While recognizing that the relationships between local departments and the communities they serve are unique, IACP is in a key position as a membership organization to help marshal a collective and effective response across federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. President Carter has indicated this report is not conclusive, but a living document that will build on law enforcement’s ability to police diverse and continually-evolving communities with professionalism, sensitivity, and in ways that promote mutual trust and collaboration.

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