Cultural Diversity and the Police in the United States: Understanding Problems and Finding Solutions

Benjamin J. Goold, Karyn Hadfield

Research output: Other contribution


For over 150 years, there has been a history of tension and conflict between the police and minority communities in the United States. In principle, the police exist to enforce the law and protect all citizens regardless of race or ethnic background, yet police departments across the country have been repeatedly accused of targeting and harassing racial minorities, and of failing to root out racist attitudes and practices within their ranks. Recent, high profile cases of beatings by police have only served to heighten concerns over the mistreatment of minorities by the police, resulting in widespread calls for major legal and institutional reforms. In the absence of a coordinated national strategy, state and local police departments have largely been left to develop their own solutions to the problems of policing minority communities and improving cultural sensitivity amongst their officers, with mixed results. Almost forty years after the stinging criticisms of the Kerner Commission Report on Policing, there is still a pressing need for more to be done. In working to develop the Cultural Diversity and the Police (CDAP) model as well as training and technical assistance materials for law enforcement agencies, John Jay College and the Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA) have drawn extensively on the work done by both the police and independent researchers in the field of police-minority relations. We have sought to ensure that our recommendations are informed by a broad range of perspectives on the issue of cultural diversity and the police. This paper provides an overview of the problems facing the police in their efforts to improve relations with minority communities in the United States, as well as a survey of previous research and existing literature on cultural diversity programs.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002

Publication series

SeriesAll Faculty Publications

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