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Scandal Highlights Need for Gender-Balanced Force/ 60 Minutes Reports Police Family Violence Scandal

Recent disclosures in a growing scandal within the Los Angeles Police Department have revealed allegations of police officers involved in beatings and shootings of citizens, perjury, and drug dealing. According to ex-officer Rafael Perez, who has revealed much of the LAPD scandal in exchange for a reduced sentence on drug-dealing charges, women officers were not trusted to be “in the loop.” In 1991, the Los Angeles Police Department was found in court cases to discriminate on the basis of sex. Moreover, the LAPD was ordered by the court twice since then to increase its numbers of women. Despite these rulings, less than one-fifth of the LAPD is female. Katherine Spillar, National Coordinator of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Penny Harrington, head of the National Center for Women & Policing, argue, “Introducing significantly greater numbers of women to the force would reduce police brutality incidents.” Research nationally and internationally has shown that women are less likely to use excessive force, and are better at defusing potentially violent situations. Spillar & Harrington were recently featured on a 60 Minutes report on police family violence in the LAPD. Nationwide, studies indicate as many as 40 percent of police officers use domestic violence in their own homes.

Sources:

The Los Angeles Times - February 18, 2000, The Washington Post - February 28, 2000, and Feminist Majority Foundation