Women and Minorities in Policing Course: CJS 210 Submitted by Travis Hance Instructor: Jason Garner

Throughout policing history, what has been the role of women and minorities? This is a generic, and somewhat difficult question to answer. Because of the nature of policing, it should be relatively easy to see an evolutionary process within police departments and law enforcements agencies that match the political climate and evolutionary process of the country. I make this statement because up until the 1960’s, police departments around the country were still enforcing “Jim Crow Laws” (Grant & Terry, Pearson Education, 2008, Page 48) which enforced segregation. The idea of a minority, especially an African American as a law enforcement officer was unthinkable to current American society. Women were not treated with any additional amount of fairness, being relegated to strictly administrative or secretarial positions.

How has the role of women and minorities changed over time? As the political climate adjusted and changed the concepts of equality progressed. With these changing times, progressive departments began to see the benefits of educating and commissioning officers who actually represented the community they were supposed to serve. This attempt to increase professionalism by its very nature required both minorities and women to be allowed to apply for training academies and serve as officers. While many of the old school of policing were uncomfortable with the idea, the effectiveness of a more diverse police force quickly became apparent. With an increase in public

scrutiny, and litigation against officers by citizens for misconduct, having people serving as commissioned officers that can relate directly to the suspect serves both the department and the public’s interest.

How has this role change affected modern policing agencies? Reflecting on the previous question, in most cases a female officer can be called to interact with a female suspect, removing most potential for sexual harassment claims. And many times an officer of either sex, but of the same race and ethnicity can assist in a situation because the citizen or suspect feels more comfortable due to common ground. These are some simple ways that departments have greatly increased their effectiveness through diversification.

What comparisons can you make regarding the criteria for women police recruits and men police recruits? I have seen both sides of the equation. Some agencies allow a different standard for men and women, and some do not. In the Academy that I attended, the standard was the same. What impressed me the most was not the men who could easily pass the course. It was the women who started out not being able to do a single pushup, and after six months of team training could do thirty five. This leads me to believe that the criteria should be the same. No Academy or department in the world would dare to give a woman a handicap on the knowledge portions of the criteria. Therefore, the physical, shooting, and driving requirements should also be the same for both men and women. Policing is not

the average employment, and it requires dedication. To add a final point that I believe reinforces my belief, when I graduated the Academy, the person who currently held the record for pushups in our Academy was a woman. We must set high standards. Whether it be physical, mental, or even tactical, a person’s ability and dedication are most important. Race or gender should not enter into the equation.

References

A: Law Enforcement in the 21st Century, Second Edition, by Heath B. Grant and Karen J. Terry. Published by Allyn & Bacon. Copyright © 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc.