Studies Show More Women Officers Would Overhaul a Police Culture of Violence
LOS ANGELES, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Donovan Jackson is not alone. The videotaped image of the mentally handicapped teenager being thrown, punched and pushed by an Inglewood police officer epitomizes an unfortunately frequent occurrence in police departments across the nation. Every day, incidents like the one involving Jackson go unreported, which is indicative of a national police culture that gives officers permission to overuse excessive force.
Local Inglewood officials, FBI officials and US Attorney General John Ashcroft have all pledged justice for Jackson. However, nothing is being done for the countless others who suffer at the hands of police officers – out of view of a video camera. The National Center for Women & Policing has a solution.
“This incident in Inglewood shows that the time to change this pervasive police culture of violence is long overdue,” said Margaret Moore, director of the National Center and one of the highest-ranking sworn women ever to have served in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). “We’ve done the research and we’ve found that female officers are less likely to abuse excessive force.”
A male police officer is more than eight-and-a-half times more likely than a female officer to have an allegation of excessive force sustained against him, according to a recent study of seven major police departments released by the National Center for Women & Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Female officers report greater support for the principles of community policing – a male officer is two to three times more likely to have a citizen name him in a complaint of excessive force and the average male officer costs taxpayers between two-and-a-half and five-and-a-half times more in payouts for excessive force. In 1991, the Christopher Commission Ð appointed in the wake of the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles Ð concluded: “Female officers are not reluctant to use force but they are not nearly as likely to be involved in use of excessive force.”
“Despite this overwhelming data, women make up a mere 12.7 percent of all sworn officers in departments with 100 officers or more,” said Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Increasing the presence of women in law enforcement would not only substantially decrease police use of excessive force, but it would greatly improve service to our nation’s communities. As the city of Inglewood seeks to reform its police practices in the wake of this recent incident, increasing the numbers of women in their force must be included in their agenda.”
“Women and men both do the job of policing equally well. However, as our data shows, women tend to do their job with an emphasis on communication tactics rather than the use of force,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “More women officers are needed to stop incidents like the one in Inglewood and to ensure that police officers truly do adhere to the standards of justice.”
The National Center for Women & Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation, promotes increasing the numbers of women at all ranks of law enforcement as a strategy to improve police response to violence against women, reduce police brutality, and strengthen community policing reforms. Men, Women, and Police Excessive Force: A Tale of Two Genders is available at www.womenandpolicing.org.###