Could female officers be the answer to our “distrust of police” problem?

While new conversations of distrusting police have risen since cases of police brutality and the killing of un-armed men and women, many Americans have aimed to figure out a solution to this on-going problem.

The tests used in the selection and hiring of police recruits contribute to this problem. The vast majority of police agencies use some form of physical abilities testing in their hiring process. These tests tend to emphasize upper-body strength and disqualify some women – and men of slight stature.  Yet physical strength has never been shown to predict a police officer’s effectiveness or ability to handle dangerous situations. Instead, testing should focus on an applicant’s communication skills and ability to defuse potential violence and maintain composure in situations of conflict.

According to a new Gallup poll, U.S. Confidence in police is lowest it has ever been in 22 years.

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While a majority of Americans remain confident in the police, 52% currently express “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in that institution, tying the low in Gallup’s 22-year trend. Confidence has ranged fairly narrowly between 52% and 64% since 1993.Overall, 25% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in the police, 27% quite a lot, 30% “some,” 16% “very little” and 2% “none.” The combined 18% who have very little or no confidence in police is the highest Gallup has measured to date. 

The problem is this: we know this problem exists, but how can it be solved?

The conversation about solutions has focused on body cameras, better training, along with a need for community engagement. But a critical idea is being overlooked: increasing the numbers of women in police ranks.

Women in some cases are thought to be less effective officers in comparison to men because of their physical strength and perceived inability to be stern.Their number of arrests, arrest characteristics, and effectiveness often measures an officer’s level of effectiveness. In all cases women perform equally as well as men. Empirical analysis points out that female officers use less force in arrest situations than male offices. Women are better at community policing, thus more effective at mediating issues resulting in using less force than men.

In 2001, women accounted for only 12.7% of all sworn law enforcement positions

What makes a female police officers more competent to unite the community and law enforcement?

  1. Females use less excessive force
  2. Female officers are more community oriented
  3. Females interact better with other women

Female officers utilize less force because they possess more interpersonal skills that can be less seen in their male colleagues. This mere fact pushes them ahead of men in using less physical force than males because they just don’t have to. Most stories about excessive force, police civilian killings rarely include female officers. Why? Women emphasize the importance of de-escalating high-tension situations.

  • Only 37% of the largest police departments require any training of interpersonal skills for police applicants. This figure contrasts dramatically with the 67-80% of city police departments and 84-91% of state police agencies that use physical agility testing as part of their selection process.

Community policing efforts are essential for maintaining harmony in communities that are at high-rise for violence. These efforts are an inexpensive way to keep crime rates low by forming community partnerships (neighborhood watch), public trust initiatives, and ensuring police and community accountability. Women are therefore, favored by their community more than males. In fact, one study found that male officers were the target of 50% more insults by citizens and almost three times as many threats or attempts at injury in comparison with their female peers.

Because women are able to establish such good rapport, they are able to also mediate domestic violence calls more effectively. In these cases, they can relate to the victim, identify the aggressor, and mediate the issue.

This clip illustrates how a female officer is able to defuse a situation and gain the trust of the victim to be able to identify the aggressor. In this example, and many like it, a female police officer can be essential to solving domestic violence incidents.

“Women in law enforcement, however, are not just a handy tool to assist a man’s job, they can do their job with the same efficiency and courage, sometimes even better. Every man should want a woman on their force.”

How does the community policing model promote gender equality? How can that be related to safe communities ?

  1. Encourages women to work in law enforcement because they feel they have a place to work
  2. Including gender equality in the work place is a step forward for working against gendered division of labor we often see within police departments.
What do you think? Hiring female officers an easy solution to a large problem?

Justice Can Be Grey

The lines between fair justice and unjust actions performed by the police when it comes to treating of minorities, especially towards African-Americans, has been blurred and surrounded by shades of grey for decades. The article The Gray Area Between Racial Profiling and Policing shows that as much as we want to believe improvements have been… Continue reading Justice Can Be Grey