There are over 100,000 sworn female police officers in the United States, and while that number may seem large, female police officers only account for around 14% of all police officers in the United States. Some are going so far as to call it a female recruiting crisis. Studies have shown that female officers are just as capable as their male counterparts and also possess unique traits and skills that make them incredibly valuable to their departments and the communities they serve. So what makes female police officers so effective, and how can we recruit more female officers to join the force?
Benefits of female officers to police departments
A study titled Women Police: The Use of Force by and Against Female Police Officers lays out some interesting findings about female police officers. The study found that female police officers are less likely to be named in a citizen complaint and to have excessive force allegations levied against them. The study also goes on to show that the mere presence of female officers can reduce the levels of force used by their fellow officers. Reduction of excessive force allegations is important given the recent scrutiny of police officers in our country, so more women on the force could be helpful in reducing excessive force incidents.
There are other benefits that female police officers provide as well, such as helping in implementing community-based policing strategies. According to the National Center for Women and Policing, women generally possess superior interpersonal communication skills. In law enforcement, these skills can help defuse potentially violent situations and also promote deeper levels of trust between the communities and local police departments.
Recruiting more female police officers
While the benefits of more female police officers are clear, police departments across the country are having a hard time recruiting female officers. According to Lisa Layden, a veteran police officer in Pennsylvania, recruiting tactics used by police departments don’t generally appeal to women. “If you look at recruiting videos for police departments, they are very militarized. It almost looks like video games,” Layden said. “They show a lot of the tactical stuff, the firearms stuff.” She says that women are often drawn to the public service aspect of the job.
There is a police recruit shortage across the nation, not just among female officers. As police departments continue to deal with the nationwide shortage of police they should also examine ways to appeal to female recruits. Female police officers have proved time and again that they are just as capable as their male counterparts, and they also bring their own unique traits and skills that benefit the departments and the communities they serve.