“There is data to suggest that recruiting more female cops–who make up 12 percent of the national force–could reduce unnecessary violence.” —Time Magazine
A 2002 study by the National Center for Women & Policing, for example, found that women accounted for only 5 percent of excessive-force cites, despite making up almost 13 percent of police personnel. And in 2014, only 9 percent of complaints against the New York City police department were about a female officer, even though women make up 17 percent of its force, according to Time.
A week hardly goes by without the TV news revealing citizen-captured videos of unwarranted local police response including deadly force. They’re from all over the country. One that showed a different kind of force was “shot” on a Washington D.C. sidewalk, showing a female officer getting teens to disperse after a fight by engaging in a dance-off. Although there is not one solution to the country’s policing challenges, female cops could command more respect and offer a new, non-lethal approaches.
It would probably require a huge culture shift. Recruiting puts lots of emphasis on car chases and shootouts, which seemingly appeal more to males than females. Training prioritizes physical strength over communication skills. “It’s not that women aren’t capable of using force,” says Mary O’Connor, assistant chief of the Tampa, FL, police, who has 22 years service. “We’re just more inclined to use it as a last resort,” she explained to Charlotte Alter, Time reporter.
Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center, has a full-time, uniformed but no gun toting “resource officer.” In my two years plus, pretty much, full-time exposure to Horizonte, I’ve never seen or heard about a situation where he had to even raise his voice. The infrequent “action,” he says, occurs over the two blocks between Horizonte and public transportation. He’s a calming, friendly and respected, low profile presence. It’s hard to imagine a woman, representing Salt Lake’s finest, could better keep the peace.