Minority Police Applicants Concerns and Assessment of Occupational Roles

By Kozey, Jordan | Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Minority Police Applicants Concerns and Assessment of Occupational Roles


Kozey, Jordan, Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services


ARTICLE REVIEWED:

Perrott, S.B. (1999). Visible Minority Applicant Concerns and Assessment of Occupational Role in the Era of Community-based Policing. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 9, 339-353.

According to Perrott (1999), recruiting minority officers has become an important focus in Western Democratic policing initiatives. In Canada, a variety of strategies have been implemented to ensure that police officers representation is reflective of the social fabric. Although these initiatives aim at strengthening police-community partnerships (and also encourage workplace equity), studies conducted in both the United Kingdom and Canada suggest that many potential minority applicants remain reluctant to join the police service. According to Perrott (1999), for example, many African American youths are raised in an environment that results in suspicion of the police, creating major rifts between the two groups. The impact of this tension on minority recruitment has traditionally been assessed by researching attitudes toward the police service.

An alternative approach to understanding minority recruitment obstacles was put forward by Perrott (1999). Instead of looking at public attitudes toward police, Perrott (1999) surveyed 80 African-Canadian police applicants in an attempt to document the obstacles that they perceive to be existent with regard to minority recruitment. The mean age of the subjects was 24 years with 95% of the subjects being 32 years of age or younger and the vast majority being male. The questionnaire was distributed over three separate sessions with three separate areas of interest. The first session was based on goals and obstacles and asked subjects to rank order eight reasons why they would like to become a police officer. The same technique was employed to assess perceived obstacles regarding why a qualified African-Canadian may not want to apply to the police service.

The second measure consisted of a 16-item Likert scale that assessed perceptions across a range of issues, including: police race relations, police attitudes compared to other citizens, employment equity and police hiring practices, and job-related feelings of efficacy. Also assessed was the personal/group discrimination discrepancy (PGDD), a test to examine the extent to which disadvantaged group members perceive more discrimination towards their ethnic group than toward themselves as individuals (Taylor et al., 1990; Wright & Ruggiero, 1991). The 'across-perceiver' discrepancy (Perrott & Taylor, 1994) was also examined to verify how "close" minority applicants felt the police were to them and vice versa. Although the PGDD and across perceiver discrepancy measure have traditionally been employed as two separate and distinct assessment tools, they were used together in this case to measure how perceptual discrepancies may hinder minority recruitment and encumber police race relations. The last measure employed a 30-item Right Wing Authoritarian scale to measure predisposed authoritarianism tendencies in applicants.

The results of the study provided a number of interesting findings with regard to police recruitment of minorities.

(1) Goals and Obstacles--The highest priority assigned by subjects regarding why they wanted to become a police officer was "to serve the community". Interestingly, the option of "to serve the black community" ranked 5th on the list in priority, while being a role model was deemed to be the second most important consideration for becoming a police officer. Lower rankings were assigned to "excitement" and "prestige" as motivators for becoming a police officer. Perceived obstacles to joining the police service were divided into a number of major themes and sub-themes. The most profound obstacle ranked by the applicants consisted of concerns about prejudice at the level of police-community (i.e., dealing with racist officers). Thirteen of the 35 subjects who ranked this as their first concern were shown to also have a general mistrust toward police officers or have developed a negative attitude towards officers over the years. …

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