Why Operational Police Officers Should Reflect Demographic Diversity of the Communities in Which they Work

Diversity in law enforcement has recently been hailed for bolstering officer’s ability to communicate effectively with members of the public. Over the past decade, this has become an issue of great significance to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as an equal opportunity establishment (Australian Federal Police 2016). A diverse police force, therefore improves the establishment’s working knowledge of subtle body and conversational cues which would otherwise have been missed by a homogenous unit.

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Another primary reason why operational police officers should reflect the demographic diversity of the communities in which they work is to first enable them gain a respectable level of grasp of communities within a given locality; allowing them to adequately prepare for interactions during routine patrols. Furthermore, it is a reflection of law enforcement’s commitment to diversity rather than simply serving as an embodiment of compliance with applicable government legislations. A relevant example is the inclusion of Torres Strait Islanders in the Malunggang policed as a direct consequence of conscription efforts by the Malunggang Indigenous Officers Network (Australian Government Transparency Portal 2019).

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Demographic diversity within the operational police members is also crucial as a working framework for future liaisons with international law enforcement partners such as the United States and Britain. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that diversity in this particular context alludes not only to ethnic and racial backgrounds, but also encompasses age, gender, and sexual orientation. For instance, the Women’s Network and Gay and Lesbian Officer Network bear essential working frameworks in the Australia and strive to implement international standards of inclusion into the force. Members are accorded a unique opportunity to adopt workable strategies and leadership strategies to aid them when operating in diverse communities.’

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Furthermore, diversity and inclusion within law enforcement is one of the most effective strategies to apply when seeking to gain public trust and particularly crucial before the implementation of community policing endeavours. The presence of operational police members from a given community enhances trust in law enforcement agencies since they serve as a representation of diversity within the community. Allowing the community to see police officers who look like them elevates the level of confidence particularly in communities which typically meet operational police members only during moments of crisis.

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