Are women more effective police officers? When asking people what gender makes a more effective officer, I get various responses. Some people say having women in the police force has its disadvantages. That women will bring the police force down. Women officers are seen as less trained, less powerful, and less willing to use force, that they are just seen as too soft (National Survey). But others will say women will help out the police force in many ways, in a sense, make it stronger.
As you look back at the past decades, you could only see women working inside the police station.This usually meant working as a dispatcher, working with female inmates, or juveniles. It was not until the early 1970’s when you could finally see women in a police uniform (Hickey). Since the 1970’s, the numbers for female police officers have risen dramatically. Today, of all the sworn officers across the country, fifth teen percent are women (Hickey). A sworn officer is a police officer with the full ability to arrest someone. This is up from two percent in the 1970’s and the numbers are still rising.But since Congress passed the amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1972, saying employers could not discriminate based on gender, women could then be seen working besides their male coworkers (Policewomen).
The first sworn female officer was Lola Baldwin in 1908. She was hired to perform “regular law enforcement duties” (Policewomen, 1). Even though she was hired to do normal law enforcement duties, she noticed herself working more with crime prevention and social work than working with law enforcement.
Baldwin hardly ever wore a police uniform and never carried a firearm.Seeing this, she and others did not view her as the same as her male coworkers. Now, you can see more women working in the streets protecting the communities around them. Many people have different views of women being in the police force. I believe that having women in the police force is very helpful to the police force for many reasons. Some reasons why women are more effective police officers are because women are better communicators with people, women like to build relationships, and women are less likely to use excessive force.
One strength that women bring to the police force is being good communicators.Having this trait, women are seen as negotiators and peacemakers in the police force and in the community. Being a good communicator can also defuse a situation before it gets out of hand or turns violent (LA Times, 1). There was a study done in the District of Columbia Police Department on 86 newly hired policewomen and policemen over a year period. Both groups had to respond to the same amount of violent situations and found that when responding to these types of situations, the policewomen were more effective then their male coworkers (Police Foundation, 1). In the D.C study, the 86 newly hired female officers and 86 newly hired male police officers. Both were in the study for a one year period and both had similar cases to handle.
The study showed that both handled dangerous calls but it stated that the women police officers were the ones defusing the violent situation and not resorting to physical force. A second strength that women bring to the police force is building relationships with people while working with them (Are women better cops, 1). Citizens have shown a greater acceptance to women police officers than male police officers (Springerlink).This is very useful because it builds trust between the working officer and the other person. You can usually see women officers talking to people in the community, building relationships with them. When doing this, it puts a positive image on police officers. Also, when police officers talk with the community, it makes the people more comfortable with coming in with problems they might have. The third reason why women are more effective police officers is because they do not use excessive force until it is needed (Hiring and retaining more women, 1).
Women like to talk things out before referring to physical force unlike male police officers. This is also a good way to defuse a situation. There are also some weaknesses to having women in the police force. Some reasons why it could hurt the police force to have women in the force is because of the lack in physical strength, the tendency to get emotionally involved in cases, and the fear to use too much force. One weakness to having women in the police force is the lack of physical strength that women have. Even though women can try to build their muscle strength, women would still be weaker than a potential larger male offender.
Another weakness is that some women police officers might be afraid to use too much force, for example, a hand gun. Some women might have a fear of pulling their weapon on someone. This could make serious problems when problems arise in field work. In the study Use of Force by Female Police Officers, they compared the use of force per one hundred arrests. This was done for both male and female police officers. When the study was finished, the results came back in small numbers for both genders.
But when they looked at the weapon use, they had a significant lower rate of weapon use than their male co workers.I believe the most serious problem with women being in the police force, is when women get too emotionally involved in a case. Men can detach themselves from emotional situations easier than females. Women, on the other hand, see something and sometimes very involved in cases. These would be the major cases involving children, rape, and murder. A survey was done on randomly picked female police officers through out the nation to answer questions on their motivations in law enforcement. One question was their motivations for entering law enforcement as a career choice.
Many answered they wanted to help others, everyday is different, and it is an exciting job (National Survey). They answered other questions on why they would leave and why they would stay in law enforcement, but then a question came up on the use of force. Some answered they felt less capable than males in using force but most of the female officers answered they had no problem and more willing to use “intermediate force” (National Survey). In past years, many women have faced the fear of discrimination when working in the police force. One case was with Kathleen Burke (Taking Sides).In May of 1991, she filed charges against her supervisor because of his rude comments about her performance and not giving her more responsibility at work. He denied all of the charges.
When the case was finally over, Burke walked out with an $85,000 settlement and a promotion to a first class detective. On March 24, 2009, two women, Anita Davis and Delphine Baldwin-Casey, celebrated their thirty years working for the Youngstown Police department. When they both started in their late twenties, they were the first women in the Youngstown Police Department to be given patrol duties.Both had to face discrimination from male coworkers and had to hear comments like “I don’t want to work with a woman” (Breaking Barriers).
But when Davis and Baldwin were asked about putting criminals behind bars they said it gave them a lot of satisfaction. In the National Survey that randomly picked female officers filled out, a large percentage of the female officers answered that they were treated worse and less welcomed to the career than their male coworkers (Notional Survey). Today, women are still facing discrimination and sexist remarks but are too afraid to report it.Another case that made the playing field more level to men was in 1980 when a Los Angeles police officer, Fanchon Blake, settled a lawsuit.
Doing this opened up ranks sergeant and above for women police officers. This also allowed people to see a woman’s hard work paying off. In conclusion, there are both strengths and weaknesses to having women on the police force.
Advantages like women being better negotiators than some men and disadvantages like getting too involved in a case. But, I believe that women are more effective police officers than men even with their weaknesses.