12 Dec 2022


The Importance of Diversity Training in Law Enforcement

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Academic level: University

Paper type: Research Paper

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Diversity training in law enforcement facilitates inter-group interactions, reduces discrimination and prejudice. Unfortunately, while most firms have taken up diversity training in the private and non-governmental sectors, the mainstream government organizations have little to no progress in promoting diversity training. As Wilson et al. (2016) note, 67% of private organizations in the United States and 74% of fortune 500 companies invest in diversity training programs. Diversity training in these organizations has led to increased productivity, better employee performance, increased client satisfaction, more sales, better financial performance, and overall growth. The positive outcomes could be replicated by using the same principles of diversity training to equip and prepare law enforcement officers in their work. The paper discusses the importance of diversity training in law enforcement and highlights the processes, challenges, need, and benefits of diversity training in law enforcement.  

Diversity in Law Enforcement 

The types of diversity in social contexts are theoretically infinite and comprise every varying characteristic amongst people, such as hair or eye color. Diversity in the workplace environment could be cultural, racial, age, religion, sex or gender, disability, and sexual diversity. Cultural diversity includes differences in the ethnicity of individuals, which is the cause of differences in norms and family values that individuals are raised in and commonly affects multinational firms. Racial diversity has to do with the grouping of individuals based on their physical traits such as Asian, Caucasian, Latino, and African. Religious diversity is about the differences in spiritual and religious beliefs, which are currently multiple globally. Working with persons of varying ages and generations, such as millennials, GenX, and GenZ reflects age diversity (Lockie et al., 2021). 

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The sex, gender, or sexual orientation, which was initially about males and females, has been redefined due to multiple gender and sexual variations. Disability types and chronic conditions, whether mental or physical, also form a class of diversity primarily affecting provisions, mental health support, and inclusivity in the workplace. There are several protected characteristics and diverse groups protected by law, such as race, sexual orientation and ethnic identity. Diversity training will imply the training on the major types of workplace diversity that include age, disability, racial, religious, sexual, sex or gender, and cultural diversity. Other forms of diversity considered include education, general worldview or opinions, socioeconomic backgrounds or class diversity, and personality. Diversity is essential to consider in the law enforcement workplace, just like any other work environment, for the attributes, perspectives, and backgrounds of the team members or clients served; in this case, the community members are the clients (Wilson et al. 2016). In the event of homogeneity, the organization is deprived of healthy conflicts, which could spur innovation and progress. The diversity training of law enforcement personnel can be profitable by first helping the organization leaders to eliminate harmful bias when making employment and operational decisions.  

Reduced Racial Bias 

Cases of police killing unarmed black male civilians in the United States have been rampant and, in most cases, prompted large-scale social turmoil. According to Hall et al. (2016), these killings are due to underlying psychological antecedents on the nature of police work that leads to officers with particular characteristics having negative interactions with black male civilians. Using media reports, the authors conceptualize the social unrest resulting from the killings and suggest solutions based on industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology and social psychology (Bell, 2017). The authors note isolated fundamental mechanisms of racial bias such as stereotyping processes and typical characteristics of the law enforcement personnel such as social dominance orientation. They reckon that diversity training could play an essential role in preparing these officers to deal with the negative psychological predispositions on how they interact with colleagues and civilians from diverse backgrounds. The training will help address the long existent problems of racial bias in policing. The diversity training for law enforcement personnel can help identify and develop solutions that will eradicate the excessive use of force by the white police against black unarmed civilians. The same applies to police who interact with suspects or criminals of other ethnic groups or diverse backgrounds different from officers'.  

Changed Attitudes towards Diversity 

Policing in multicultural societies has always presented several challenges to both law enforcement officers and community residents. The residents in specific regions have their perceptions and attitudes towards police depending on how these officers generally treat the civilians in the community. Additionally, depending on the leadership of the community and the role the law enforcement officers play in either resolving the communication issues or worsening them, the relationship between the officers and the residents could be excellent or strained. On the other hand, the police officer in these communities holds particular attitudes towards the community members of diverse backgrounds. In some cases, the majority of the personnel could be from the same background, such as the same race or ethnic group. In other cases, these officers are from diverse backgrounds, yet the officers and community members persistently have issues. Therefore, diversity training should start with the top leadership of the law enforcement agencies before junior officers are training. According to Coon (2016), the ap0porach is essential in changing the attitudes receptiveness to diversity and multicultural values of the law enforcement officers. The training helps the officers have a positive attitude towards people of diverse backgrounds and execute their mandate without compromising their integrity. The diversity training of the officers will help change their attitudes and values, which will equip them to serve the diverse communities better.  

Enhanced Officer Knowledge and Awareness of Diversity Issues 

The law enforcement personnel play a unique role in the community, making their cross-cultural understanding key to their effectiveness in service delivery. There is an additional need for the officer to officer sensitivity when it comes to diversity especially, racial and sexual diversity. The law enforcement officials have to respect, understand, and willingly communicate with all population segments to represent their constituents accurately. Diversity training helps law enforcement personnel achieve such service to the community, members. The diversity training equips the law enforcement officers to expand their understanding and application of influential community policing and problem-solving techniques by the agencies and the communities they serve. The training will improve the services by creating unique insights, especially on the culture of law enforcement agencies in both their operations and organizational structures (Israel et al., 2017). The law enforcement leaders can benefit from the training by fostering change and leading transformation in their departments through quality training, innovative approaches, and leveraging technical assistance in problem-solving, creating safe and livable communities in areas of their jurisdiction. 

            When community members feel law enforcement agencies and personnel do not understand their concerns, their confidence in the personnel and agencies severely diminishes. In such cases, the members of these communities refrain from or limit their cooperation with law enforcement agencies, especially when reporting crimes and providing the necessary information pertinent to solving crimes. The diversity training helps the law enforcement professionals that service that community or region to critically examine the cultural assumptions and stereotypes that have been held by the community (Coon, 2016). The law enforcement officers can leverage the training to help them examine how they perceive their colleagues and community members of distinct backgrounds from theirs. The training will impact how they perceive these people and their effectiveness in service delivery and officer safety. 

Diversity training for law enforcement officers helps in the observation and experiencing cultural differences. It thus increases their awareness of the behaviors and attitudes and makes the officers appreciate commonalities present across the different cultures. Moreover, the enforcement officers will have the chance and platform to discuss the adverse effects of discrimination and the impacts of prejudice, which will empower them to confront the divisive issues. The diversity training further helps the participants carefully examine how diversity skills will directly affect their law enforcement work. The officers will acquire the skills necessary for leveraging the benefits of diversity in relationships, especially in hate crime investigations. The diversity training also creates situations that help reinforce the concept of team building without bias or exclusion of others based on their diversity (Bell, 2017). The law enforcement officers who undergo training are well equipped to turn the diverse knowledge into usable skills for the services to diverse communities. Diversity training, particularly cross-cultural training, and education, help indirectly addressing existing implicit bias, racisms, and ethnic profiling. 

Enhanced Diversity Behaviors and Skills to Handle Diversity Issues 

Understanding how officers respond to the diversity training is crucial to the preparation and delivery process of the training. In a study by Israel et al. (2017) on how the law enforcement officers react to LGBTQ training, the researchers sought to determine the process and the need for the training. The Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and diverse queer groups are currently a global issue, with different countries and organizations having varying regulations and attitudes towards these groups. The authors note four overarching themes that include the needs of the LGBTQ community members, perceptions of law enforcement, nonverbal resistance, and defending law enforcement practices. The law enforcement officers showed both resistance and receptiveness to the LGBTQ training.  

Enhanced Problem Solving, Inclusivity, and Leadership 

Diversity training strengthens the relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities in which they serve. The training helps the officers accept differences and maintain impartiality in their services to the people. The services relationships between superiors and juniors as well as colleagues are kept professional. Additionally, the law enforcement officers will better understand the need to accept differences among themselves with different colleagues, regardless of their sexual, racial, or sexual orientation differences or their national origin. The training allows them to think outside the box on security issues that require communal cooperation in the society’s most complex issues (Griffin, 2019). Law enforcement work is more of a calling rather than anything else someone may think, and it allows the officers to make positive impacts in the lives of others. The law enforcement personnel will have more compassion by understanding the underlying causes and reality of diversities; they will understand that everyone comes from different backgrounds, help people that cannot help themselves while building relationships beyond the badge.  

The diversity training will help develop good leadership in law enforcement. It will strengthen the efforts of leadership development and inclusivity. In this way, law enforcement leaders can exemplify embracing diversity both in the recruitment and operational processes. In the diversity trains, the law enforcement organizations could include government and elected officials, community and faith-based leaders in the development of strategic plans of diversity and inclusion in the departments. The training will increase the agency's accountability in engaging in diversity or inclusion efforts, both of which are vital today’s rapidly changing demographics.  

Diversity training in law enforcement could help improve policing. Alhejji et al. (2016), in their study, found that black and Hispanic offices made fewer stops and arrests, especially against black civilians than their white counterparts. They also used less force than their white colleagues when handling suspects. George Floyd's killing is one of the high-profile police killings that underscore the need for urgent reforms, especially in embracing diversity (Lockie et al., 2021). A good example is a need for hiring more female and nonwhite officers. Diversity training will help improve how law enforcement personnel treat people of color. The disparity in how the police embrace diversity, especially white officers against black civilians, compared to black officers against white and black civilians is a shocking finding and an indicator of the dire need to train the officers on diversity. The training will help transform the various departments of the enforcement agencies such as recruitment, promotion, deployment, and day to day operations; increasing diversity only is not enough, and thus the training will help make significant overhaul changes in the way the officers operate and work in their daily assignments and chores.  

Better Communication 

Diversity training in law enforcement is worth exploring, particularly in crime prevention and ensuring the safety of the community members. Once the officers are trained on diversity, they will communicate better, address the existent difference and appreciate them, unlike before. Notably, communication is essential for efficient crime prevention and law enforcement as the officers are there to serve the community, and any communication issues make the officers' jobs more difficult. The diversity training helps officers communicate better by understanding the differences in language and with cultural nuance (Griffin, 2019). For instance, the officers will understand the difference in some cultures regarding attitudes towards personal space. In this manner, they can understand the differences between aggression and attitudes regarding personal space, which is hugely important.  

Earning of Public’s Trust and Changing Negative Perceptions 

Earning public trust is vital to effective law enforcement's thorough understanding of the nuance of other cultures. The diversity training helps change the perceptions of the law enforcement officers' understanding of how the same experiences differ from their cultures. Such kind of understanding is critical in building public trust and makes law enforcement work easier. In some communities, the members have overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards law enforcement officers (Bell, 2017). Diversity training can help change the way these officers deliver services to the people, which will change the attitudes the constituents or the community members shave towards these people. The negative perceptions are also changing by the diversification of the enforcement as each it will include representatives of certain groups or communities or culture within the agency, and then the communities will stop seeing them as outsiders. The wider community members in law enforcement will normalize the attitudes and behaviors of the community members in the law enforcement spectrum, allowing the officers to gain a greater understanding of the people they protect.  

Enhanced Cultural Responsiveness 

            Diversity training in law enforcement will contribute to improved cultural responsiveness. The officers will be equipped with essential skills and knowledge to leverage the benefits of cultural humility and their outreach programs. The training will increase self-awareness and also have the chance to learn about or practice cultural humility in the communities they serve. The officers will be able to build better and different professional relationships with their community members increasing policies legitimacy and trust with minority groups, hard to reach, and disenfranchised communities. The training will bridge the gaps of inclusion and diversity in their practical applications (Coon, 2016). The law enforcement officers will better engage the community members and create meaningful partnerships or joint problem-solving efforts. They will have increased awareness of the nuances and importance of culturally sensitive policing as they build trust with marginalized communities.  

Law enforcement work with the members of the public who are diverse such as the immigrants of varying ethnic backgrounds, the wealthy, the poor, rural residents, people of different sexual orientations, different genders, and the law enforcement officers need to undergo the diversity training to determine, recognize and appreciate the different cultural differences and backgrounds in order to foster trust among the community. The fostered trust in the community positively impacts the efforts of the law enforcement personnel (Alhejji et al., 2016). For example, the residents will be willing to report crime when they sport out and share information to help solve crimes. In addition, the community members will cooperate better with the law enforcement officers as they now have increased respect and trust. The training will also help promote positive outcomes, especially in present-day communities with immense demographic shifts in cultural competency and population that impact policing efforts.         

Maximizing Interviews, Solving crimes Faster and Understanding 

The law enforcement professionals will learn from the training to nurture and preserve trust with the public. The trust will enhance operations in these situations since the information from the people who are connected to the case makes all the difference. The officers can appreciate the differences in personality backgrounds and experiences, which helps them prepare, plan, and execute the interviews for increased success rate. They will be able to build rapport and relationships with the general public to optimize the amounts of truthful information they obtain. They can also understand the people they serve within the communities better. 

In many cases, tensions are high, making everyone to be on guard. However, the diversity training will help the officers understand the community members better, which is crucial in addressing the complex problems or investigating recurrent issues. They will better understand the differences in personalities and interrelationships of the people involved their values, and what they like to associate with. The diversity in personnel and experiences are valuable to help in the transitions; it will lead to better organizational health for the officers by incorporating diverse views and knitting them together in making ultimate decisions sin their operations. The diversity training will help improve the work environment through better cognitive processing and better exchange of information through shared experiences and ideas, enhancing problem-solving (Wilson et al. 2016). 


Diversity training increases awareness and essential skills for handling persons who differ in some ways. It raises awareness of differing values improving employee performance, enhancing workplace relationships, and enhancing the overall performance of businesses. For law enforcement agencies, diversity training plays the crucial role of equipping their personnel and employees to serve the diverse public better. The same applies to professionals and educators who can efficiently leverage their diversity training to deliver excellent services to the general public. Diversity training equips law enforcement officers to communicate with cultural nuance, earn public trust, solve crimes faster and maximize interviews. The training will help promote healthier physical, financial, professional, and emotional relationships. Moreover, it is expected to promote innovation, dialogue and creativity both in the work environment and the communities where these law enforcement officers work and live. 


Alhejji, H., Garavan, T., Carbery, R., O'Brien, F., & McGuire, D. (2016). Diversity training program outcomes: A systematic review.  Human Resource Development Quarterly, 27(1) , 95-149.https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.21221. 

Bell, M. P. (2017).  Diversity in organizations.  Cengage (Third Edition). 

Coon, J. K. (2016). Police officers’ attitudes toward diversity issues: Comparing supervisors and non-supervisory on multicultural skills, values, and training.  International Journal of Police Science & Management, 18(2) , 115-125.https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1461355716643091. 

Griffin, R. (2019).  Fundamentals of Management (9th edition).  Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 

Hall, A. V., Erika, H. V., & Perry, J. L. (2016). Black and blue: Exploring racial bias and law enforcement in the killings of unarmed black male civilians.  American Psychologist, 71(3) , 175. 

Israel, T., Bettergarcia, J. N., Delucio, K., Avellar, T. R., Harkness, A., & Goodman, J. A. (2017). Reactions of law enforcement to LGBTQ diversity training.  Human Resource Development Quarterly, 28(2) , 197-226.https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.21281. 

Lockie, R. J., Orr, R., & Dawes, J. (2021). Importance of Ability-Based Training for Law Enforcement Recruits.  Strength & Conditioning Journal, 43(3) , 80-90.DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000583. 

Wilson, C. P., Shirley, W. A., & Gwann, M. (2016). Identifying barriers to diversity in law enforcement agencies. J ournal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 14(4) , 231-253.https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.21221. 

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