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Police departments in the 50 largest cities in the United States made uneven progress in the employment of black and Hispanic officers between 1983 and 1988.

Nearly half (45 percent) of the big-city police departments made significant progress in the employment of black officers. Seventeen percent, however, reported a decline in the percentage of black officers. A similar pattern exists in the employment of Hispanic police officers. Forty-two percent of the departments reported significant increases in the percentage of Hispanic officers employed. Nearly 11 percent (10.6 percent) reported a decline, however, while 17.0 percent reported no change.

Affirmative action plans appear to play a significant role in police employment trends. Nearly two-thirds (63.8 percent) of the police departments reported operating under an affirmative action plan at some· point during the last five years. Twenty-three of the affirmative action plans were court-ordered, and seven were voluntary. Nineteen of the affirmative action plans covered the employment of both black and Hispanic officers; 11 covered only the recruitment of black officers. No departments reported plans covering only Hispanic officers.