The latest research from the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Center for Women & Policing confirms what many police and feminist leaders have known for some time: women officers are substantially less likely than their male counterparts to use excessive force in encounters with citizens. Whether measured by the number of citizen complaints, sustained allegations, or civil lawsuit judgments and payouts, the gender gap between male and female officers is striking.
The study examined the gender of officers involved in civilian complaints and sustained allegations in six major police agencies from across the United States. Although women comprise 13% of sworn officers in large police agencies, the data indicates that female officers in the agencies studied are named in only 5% of citizen complaints for excessive force and that only 2% of the sustained allegations of excessive force involved female officers. In other words, a male officer is over eight and a half times more likely than a female officer to have an allegation of excessive force sustained against him, and is two to three times more likely to have a citizen name him in a complaint of excessive force.
This new research confirms earlier studies that show that women police officers rely less on physical force and more on verbal skills in handling altercations than male police officers. As a result, women police officers are less likely to become involved in problems with excessive force and are better at defusing potentially violent confrontations with citizens.