Challenges Women Face in Law Enforcement

Length: 7 Pages 1767 Words

Not too many years ago, it was considered unusual to be a policewoman. Not only did women comprise a very small percentage of total officers, but their relative newness in the job meant that women were concentrated in the lower-ranking positions. However, this reality has changed. As of 2002, 12.7% of police officers in the United States were women, and the research indicates that the percentage of female officers continues to grow. (Lonsway, et al., 2002). Furthermore, a growing number of higher-ranking officers are women, which, in turn, has created more advancement opportunities for entry-level officers. Despite these trends, women in police work still face tremendous challenges. First, while most police departments have made significant improvements in their efforts to recruit and retain women, many of them still engage in sex-based discrimination through their selection of physical agility tests. Second, many of the gains that women made in equality were imposed through court orders and consent degrees, which are beginning to expire. Third, women and men police differently, as demonstrated by the fact that women are far less likely to be involved in excessive force complaints. Finally, the presence of women on a poli Continue...


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In contrast, effective police response increases the likelihood that domestic violence victims will leave an abusive relationship. The most effective way for women applicants to challenge these tests is to demonstrate that the tests result in de facto discrimination and bring a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This difference results in a tremendous difference in costs, with the end result being that the "average male officer costs somewhere between two and a half and five and a half times more than the average female officer in excessive force liability lawsuit payouts. Officer involvement in domestic violence calls can be particularly important when the abuser is a fellow officer. Many people assume that, in order to successful in a law-enforcement career; a police officer must be physically fit. A final alternative is for agencies to engage in post-training testing, which gives applicants the opportunity to gain the necessary physical conditioning as part of their training. However, this assumption is erroneous; research strongly indicates that actual police work is relatively sedentary and that most in-service law enforcement personnel are not physically fit. All of these alternatives have been shown to increase the rate of female participation in the law enforcement workplace. One of the facts that make anti-female discrimination by law enforcement agencies so hard to understand is that there is substantial evidence suggesting that women are safer and less expensive officers than men. These tasks can include marksmanship or other weapons skills. It would appear that the fact that women are underrepresented in police brutality issues would be helpful to women in law enforcement.

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