As one may correctly assume, law enforcement agencies face multiple issues in today’s society. There are many stressors in police work. Much of the stress associated with police work comes from recruiting and retaining police officers. One of the chief stressors of recruitment and retention flows from the nature of our diverse societies. Both the U S. and Canada have significant ethnic populations living within their borders. In areas of each country with non-English speaking minorities, police departments stress the importance of having officers that have the ability to investigate a crime or deal with a victim in his or her native language.
Further, it is a complex task to recruit police officers for diverse communities who are not only qualified, but also bring with them an awareness or connection with the community. Therefore, stress is high in departments that service significant non-native speaking populations. But as much as recruitment is an issue, so is retention of minority officers. As the U. S. and Canada are majority Caucasian countries, the retention of police minority officers is crucial. However, it isn’t easy. As recently as twenty to thirty years ago, the majority of recruits to police agencies looked to make police work a career.
Now, younger recruits largely do not stay in the police force for a full thirty year career. More and more, new recruits stay in police work for five to ten years on average and then move to other jobs in the private sector. Clearly, retaining minority officers to police their ethnically diverse neighborhoods become even more of a stress to departments as fewer and fewer officers stay on the job. Almost as important as recruiting and retention are to police departments is the promotion process.
Many factors determine the promotion of minority officers, such as size and influence of the local minority population, minority group political and organizational representation, affirmative action policies, slack resources, and the presence of multiple minority groups. Very often, a department will seek to promote minority officers more quickly than their white counterparts. This causes stress and friction between the competing ethnicities within the department. Another significant stressor present in police departments is the specter of prejudice and racism.
As far as our country has come in race relations over the years, racism and prejudice still exists. A police department is no different, being a microcosm of the greater population it serves. These irrational beliefs bring stress into the police station. Police officers become inculcated with these irrational beliefs through a life-long process by society, culture, racial or ethnic groups, family, friends, or peer groups. Often, the indoctrination into racism or prejudice comes from multiple sources. Not only do the individual attitudes of racism and prejudice cause stress within the police department.
Changing these attitudes is also stressful. As we can see, recruiting efforts, prejudice, promotions, and retention of minority officers are issues that police agencies face. Very often, the aims and goals of one ethnic group directly compete and take precedence over another, very often through conscious policy. Departments need to be aware of this and seek effective ways to relieve or lessen the effects of stress of all those affected. A key element for the U. S. Department of Homeland Security is to share information with several different agencies consisting of federal, state, and local entities.
Federal officials feel there needs to be a partnership among federal, state, and local agencies to ensure national security. The DHS and DOJ provide more than a dozen homeland security related information sharing systems. Since the 9/11 attacks there is a need for better information sharing, between, law enforcement, emergency management, and intelligence agencies. Law enforcement who utilize the homeland security information system on a regular basis, tend to be more aware of potential threats versus those who do not access the information system at all.
The efforts to fight the war on terrorism need to be more coordinated. Many police departments are not staffed with officers that possess the training or knowledge that would help in the fight against terrorism. The federal government needs to step in and assist in the development of the local agencies. Police agencies need to be able to respond to attacks and cannot do so without the proper training. That being said police departments need to have long term goals in mind when recruiting officers with the right skills that will assist with home land security duties.
However, police departments usually do not have these types of resources. This is where congress plays an important role. Congress is well aware that there is a high demand for local police services and personnel which in turn should make them focus on allocating federal resources accordingly. References McCooey, P. (2006, January). Wanted: A few good men -- and women and minorities: Canadian police forces have joined to fight a triple whammy -- a glut of retirements, officers quitting mid-career and too many white males. The Ottawa Citizen.
Gustafson, J. (2008). Conference papers. American Society of Criminology, 1. Retrieved November 5, 2011 from the University of Phoenix Online Library. Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal Justice Today (11th ed. ). Retrieved from University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Lee, J. (2009, June 26). Moving to promote minority officers, NY Times Online. Retrieved from http://cityroom. blogs. nytimes. com/2009/06/26/moving-to-promote-minority-officers/. Homeland Security. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://www. dhs. gov/files/programs/gc_1233584621570. shtm.