Masters Thesis

Addressing underrepresentation in the Bakersfield Police Department

Minorities are underrepresented within the ranks of the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD). According to a 2014 report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, personnel within the department is 74 percent White with minorities accounting for 26 percent. In contrast, the city of Bakersfield reflects a greater diversity in its populace with White residents composing 56.8 percent, 8.2 percent African American, 6.2 percent Asian, and 22.4 percent encompassing other racial minority groups based on the 2010 U.S. Census. Ethnically, the city of Bakersfield is comprised of 45.5 percent Hispanic with the remaining 54.5 percent identifying as not Hispanic or Latino. Correspondingly, Hispanics or Latinos makeup 37.6 percent of the population in the state of California, with Whites at 40.1 percent, African Americans 5.8 percent, Asians 12.8 percent and others at approximately 3.7 percent based on the 2010 U.S. Census. These demographic figures are likely to continue to change over time locally and statewide. The problem of underrepresentation derives its meaning and context from the administration of public institutions. In seeking to ensure that a public institution is representative of the constituency it serves, administrators will more likely reflect the social and political concerns of minority groups in their decision making. The study reviews the existing literature surrounding recruitment practices and Representative Bureaucracy Theory (RBT) in formulating units of analysis. Afterwards, the study was conducted through a comparative analysis of various law enforcement case studies or reports, seeking to identify practices that are likely to encourage and engage minority applicants. The findings indicate that many of the existing practices of the BPD are shared by other law enforcement departments, finding their rationale and success in demonstrating the values and aims of RBT. Recommendations include evaluating administrative procedures and the creation of opportunities for community involvement. The study finds that many law enforcement departments have sought to establish community based recruitment practices, empowering residents to facilitate the employment process within their respective racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Involving residents to become stakeholders in the department provides opportunities to influence policy and establish working relationships with minorities. In addition, the study recommends that the BPD seek to review certain administrative procedures in increasing the volume of applicants. The department should evaluate recruitment activities in determining effectiveness and guiding the allocation of resources. Similarly, the department should use applicant data to influence application criteria in better understanding barriers to successful minority applications.

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