To the Editor:
Women represent almost half of the U.S. population. However, less than 15% of American police officers are women. Historically, policing has been a male dominated profession. However, having a balanced police force has countless benefits.
Some studies suggest that women are less likely to be involved in use of force incidents or the subject of civilian complaints. Considering that police legitimacy is often under tense scrutiny, increasing female representation within the policing ranks seems logical.
Despite the benefits of having more women on the force, female officers face unique obstacles. Because policing is a male dominated profession, it not uncommon for agencies to lack of gender-specific protocols. Thus, creating challenges associated with pregnancy, nursing, and childcare.
Even though some departments have pledged to increase their percentage of female officers to 30%, there must also be a commitment to improve how police facilities support the needs of women.
For example, agencies need comprehensive policies that address the work status of pregnant officers. At a minimum, things such as: light duty opportunities, flexible shifts, and lactation rooms must be addressed and highlighted in a police department’s recruitment efforts. If this infrastructure is not in place, I’d argue, not enough is being done to support the nationwide initiative to recruit and retain more female police officers.
Dr. James T. Scott
Retired Sergeant, Connecticut State Police
Assistant Professor Albertus Magnus College