Transforming Law Enforcement by Changing the Face of Policing

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, women compose just 12.7 percent of all sworn law enforcement officers in the United States—15.5 percent of sworn personnel in federal law enforcement, 13.9 percent in sheriffs’ offices, 11.2 percent in local police departments, and 6.5 percent in state agencies.1 Decades of research have illustrated a long history of resistance against women in policing, and, although marginal gains have been made through lawsuits and consent decrees to remedy discriminatory hiring and employment practices, the policing community has not done enough to make law enforcement a progressive and welcoming profession that truly reflects the diverse communities they serve. In response to a number of current law enforcement challenges, Executive Order 13684 (2014) established the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The task force released a final report in 2015 outlining recommendations on policing practices that can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. Among these recommendations was a call for law enforcement agencies to develop a more diverse workforce, with a “a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience, and cultural background.”2