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Feminist News


September-19-95

STATEMENT OF CHIEF PENNY E. HARRINGTON, DIRECTOR

I am the director of the National Center for Women and Policing. I spent 23 years in policing and became the first woman Chief of Police of a major city in the United States. For the past three years, I have volunteered hundreds of hours of my time a s a member of the Women's Advisory Council to the Los Angeles Police Commission to assist in bringing about reform in Los Angeles Police Department through the hiring of more women officers.

Sadly, little progress has been made, and nothing or no one so clearly demonstrates the need for hiring more women officers than the shocking testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial about Detective Mark Fuhrman.

The world has learned what we have been reporting over the past four years -- that there are still police officers in the LAPD who lie, falsify evidence, and take pride in their racist and sexist beliefs. These rogue officers have jeopardized what lit tle faith the citizens of Los Angeles have in their police department. They have severely damaged the reputation of the good people in the LAPD who are trying to provide quality police services.

I am calling today on the City Council, the Major, the Police Commission and the Chief of Police to not delay one day longer in implementing the City Council's 1994 directive to gender balance the ranks of the LAPD. Increasing the numbers of women police will change the culture of the LAPD.

The Christopher Commission found overwhelming evidence that the women of the LAPD do not resort to the use of excessive force. Women officers use a style of policing that is the basis of community policing techniques and are problem solvers. It has c ome as no surprise to us that here has not been one woman officer implicated in the incidents o police abuse bragged about by Detective Fuhrman. Not one woman is among the officers now under investigation for falsifying evidence.

And yet, within the LAPD, women are denigrated, harassed and subjected to many forms of discrimination in employment. Fuhrman literally rages with disdain for women officers who won't give a suspect a shot in the stomach with her baton'.

I am further calling for an an immediate, independent investigation into whether the anti-women, clandestine organization, "Men Against Women" continues to operate inside the LAPD. The LAPD culture that supports men such as Mark Fuhrman, allows them to remain as police officers and regards their behavior by promoting them must be eliminated.

Until women officers can sit in roll call and know they are valued members of the group -- until women officers are no longer subjected to derogatory remarks about the abilities of women police -- and until the commanders, supervisors and peers in t he LAPD take immediate action to stop the gender harassment they witness, there is no meaningful "zero tolerance policy" toward discrimination and harassment in the LAPD.

Women leaders in this community are proud of the women who have dedicated their lives to service in their community by becoming LAPD officers. We want the women in the LAPD to know that we are here to support them and that we will not tolerate any fur ther mistreatment of the courageous women officers in the Los Angeles Police Department.

I will be appearing at the City Council hearings this morning to present a FIVE POINT PLAN OF ACTION FOR REFORM

Media Resources: Feminist Majority Foundation