Local police departments’ use of criminal background checks and citizenship requirements to vet job applicants are among the barriers limiting diversity in law enforcement, a new Justice Department report finds.
The report, released Wednesday in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, critiques several widely used police-hiring practices — noting that over-reliance on such criteria “may limit certain underrepresented communities’ representation in law enforcement agencies.”
“Ensuring that law enforcement agencies represent the diversity of the communities they serve can help restore trust and improve policing,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
Criminal background checks done as part of police departments’ hiring processes are “likely to disproportionately impact racial minority applicants,” the report states.
The report acknowledges that police departments are “undeniably justified in carefully vetting and investigating potential hires” through background checks, but it suggests that agencies should not automatically disqualify applicants who have used drugs or have a criminal record, the Washington Times reports.