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Police force diversity


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"I wouldn't have considered the Detroit Police Department at that time," Hendrix said. "(State police) seemed more professional. When I was younger I had gotten stopped by them, and they were always professional. They were professional and polite, and that's the way I was raised by my parents. I joined in 1989. I have 26 years in now."

Of the total 1,836 sworn officers at the Michigan State Police department, 171 are white females, which includes the department's director; 29 Native American males; nine male and two female troopers are of Pacific Islander ethnicity; 103 male and 10 female, African Americans; and 50 male and one female, Hispanics.

The department earlier this year caught headlines for its decline in diversity since federal mandates were lifted at the department for failing to hire enough females and minorities. While Hendrix said it may be true that the number of minorities in the department have fallen in recent years, he said the overall number of troopers has also fallen to about 1,836, from close to 2,700 or more in 1989. In July of 2014, the department moved its recruiting section from the training division into its Lansing headquarters, where Hendrix heads the unit.

The decline in law enforcement officers is a trend across the state, as the number of officer positions has dropped from about 23,150 in 2001 to 19,039, as of May 2015, according to monthly law enforcement population trends released by MCOLES.

"That's one of the big stories. It's been dropping since Sept. 11, 2001," said MCOLES Deputy Executive Director Hermina Kramp. "The drop in population was heavily impacted by the downturn in the economy, as well as a downturn in revenue sharing. It's not that (agencies) don't need officers. It's a dollars and cents issue for them. A lot of agencies and communities have had to make tough choices."

The recession, beginning in 2008, caused additional difficulties for police departments throughout the nation, including problems with budget and workforce reductions, consolidations, while at the same time increasing responsibilities and difficulties attracting and hiring qualified, diverse and skilled personnel, according to Jeremy Wilson, research director and associate professor at the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. However, regardless of economic conditions, departments have historically had a difficulty recruiting and maintaining a workforce that reflects their communities, Wilson said in a 2014 paper, "Strategies for Police Recruitment: A Review of Trends, Contemporary Issues and Existing Approaches." Additionally, Wilson says that historical concerns about recruiting minorities and women have now expanded to concerns about whether the profession can market itself to a new generation of workers.

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Tags: LONGFORM

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