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Report Documents Police Abuse Against Women Motorists

A new report by the Police Professionalism Initiative at the University of Nebraska at Omaha documents disturbing nationwide occurrences of female drivers being stopped by male police officers and subjected to sexual harassment and assault. The report examined a decade of over 400 media accounts describing incidents across the United States. Only 100 of the incidents resulted in official sanctions against the officer. In one instance, a Long Island police officer was suspended after admitting he had forced a woman to undress in public in exchange for not writing a traffic ticket. Experts expect that this study is only a small representation of the extent of these situations, since many women are reluctant to report police misconduct because of fear of reprisal or humiliation. The study’s name, “Driving While Female,” parallels the pattern of racial profiling of motorists, often referred to by the term “Driving While Black.” The report utilizes research by the National Center for Women & Policing to call on police departments to adopt a zero tolerance policy on harassment of female drivers, and to hire more female officers to reduce the risk of misconduct.

Sources:

University of Nebraska Press Release; 05/29/02