While the debate amongst society remains apparent in regards to the “physical” potential of women in law enforcement, there is a lesser confrontation in regards to aspects of policing in which women seem to be better equipped to complete in opposed to their male counterparts. The stereotypical phrase “women are too soft” actually can be seen as a compliment in many underlining ways. Much research has been finalized since women began to in the field of policing. However, women didn’t seem to stand out at all in the workplace let alone law enforcement until World War I drafted a vast population of males to battle overseas in the early 1900’s (Darian 566). Presently speaking, the daily fight by female police officers to achieve equality in the “Urban Policing” setting remains due to the position being a historically-written male field regardless of how much “acceptance” as well as legal doctrines have been incorporated into policing. The notion that “Traditional” policing and “Community” policing are unable to create a fully-functioning precinct is merely an “old-timers” opinion that is diminishing the full potential welfare of policing units as a whole.
Being that states such as New York City were deprived heavily of male officers during World War I, Mayor John Hylan organized a committee to allow women to “temporarily replace” the absence of male uniforms (Darien 566). The Deputy commissioner at the time and head of NYPD’s Police Reserves, Rodman Wanamaker favored Hylan’s committee proposal, and even went on record by stating that, “New York women have the vote, and therefore they should have an active part in enforcing the laws” (Darien 566-567). Interesting enough, Wanamaker later went on record in stating that women’s position on the force as of right now was strictly voluntary as well as equally temporary. One might say the commissioner might have appeared to be proving his manliness with the later statement following his positive first proposal. However, Wanamaker placed these women officers instantly in areas that he as well as many of his other superiors believed women would be naturally fitting, and that was tending to the welfare of young children in areas of vulnerability around the city. The “rougher” scenes of lawbreaking were to be specifically endured only by male officers. At this point, one might say that the police work that women officers were allowed to engage in is rather limited.Women during this time were merely viewed as “moral guardians” not capable of engaging in physical or “real” police work, and many women superiors such as one working under Wanamaker for the NYPD at the time, Ellen O’Grady, accepted this fact, and even trained her fellow women colleagues to adapt to this way of thinking as she had (Darien 567-568). Although O’Grady praised the work that her female officers were carrying out, and substantially believed them to be able to carry a greater load, she was still dominated by her male superiors, and did not have a say in the work that women would “do” and “not do” while on patrol. If a women in a position of seniority such as Ellen O’Grady wasn’t willing to address what she believed to be problematic about the daily discouraging as well as limited atmosphere of women on patrol at this time, then what was the future going to hold? During this time period women were being aloud to do the work that they did at this time as a courtesy from their mostly male superiors, and one might say that women were afraid to speak up for fear of losing the little opportunities they were granted to begin with, and be left unable to carry out “police work” of any kind. The main objective of urban policewomen at this time was to accurately shelter runaway girls and keep “watch” out for men who might come along and attempt to take advantage of them (Darien 569). At this time, there were no advances or even possible inclings that pointed into the direction of bringing the aspects of male policing that were shown to be successful together with those belonging to women policemen.
After World War II, women continued to show their zeal and dedication towards the promotion of the “real cop” status. Just as the women were being segregated on the battlefield, they were simultaneously enduring a “sex-segregated” labor market (Darien 570). Though the vision of a “traditional cop” was still that of a male, the NYPD now emphasized that male officers try to incorporate more of a “feminine brain”. This meant that men would not only have to be physically fit to perform policing, but were expected to think like women officers do when dealing with sensitive encounters such as child abuse or sexual assault. This 1950’s trend aimed at getting male officers to think like women so that they wouldn’t necessarily need the women sectors on the force anymore. After all, male superiors sought it an easier task at the time to train men in this fashion and keep them employed, as opposed to “brawning” women up when there bodies cannot physically ever get as strong as men. However, little success was shown in this approach to transfer feminine talents onto that of men, and women officers remained on the force.
When legal action in regards to “equal opportunity” was finally granted to women in specific policing roles such as “special agents” in 1969, the stated material of President Nixon’s Executive Order 11478 has limitedly enforced since it was declared (Dorothy 1). In fact, the Order as followingly stated still struggles to be enforced in female employment in general: “the policy of equal opportunity applies to and must be an integral part of every aspect of personnel practice in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment, of civilian employees of the federal government” (Dorothy 2). Before 1971, The stated word “civilian employee” in regards to female’s was heavily debated, being that many were still skeptical about women’s use and carry of firearms throughout the policing realm (Dorothy 2). Only time would prove them able to use the force necessary without abusing their power of being provided with arms.
Since the beginning of the police force, the “Traditional” or male model of policing was favored over the later developed “Community Model” of policing typically associated with a clearer feminine approach. The various attitudes under the traditional model are consistent with that of a more aggressive and forceful “masculine” outlook towards law and order (Sims 279). Whereas, the community model portrays an agenda of a “direct link with citizens” through problem solving, intuition, order maintenance, general assistance as well as a direct bond to citizens, typically shown to be produced more often in female patrolmen (Sims 279). A few caveats are connected with each type of policing. In most “traditionally born” sectors, women police officers who are employed within them are more susceptible to experiencing sexism in both commentary as well as in a general sense, male bias, promotion decline, sexual harassment, degradement, and subordination. These types of attitudes directed towards women on the force are proven to create both “informal” and “formal” barriers for women police officers working in an urban or metropolitan setting (Sims 281). The attitudes that are expressed towards women in the form of “sexist” remarks, sexual harassment, degradement of their various posts, and inferiority are considered one side of the barrier. Whereas the more “formal” barriers are in context to gender norms opposed in a traditionally masculine field, which more often than not segregates women from being able to engage in what is typically referred to as “manly” police work. Though the intensity of the later statement has decreased as “old-timers” are retiring from police seniority, the question of which style of policing will help guide urban police departments towards their greatest potential in the future is a sincere issue.
While the natural biological emotions of the female brain are proven useful in many ways such as working with surviving victims of various traumatic events, hostage negotiation, and essentially dealing with women and children, they aren’t as easily welcomed in a traditional crime-fighting setting. Many opposed, believe that emotions hinder a women’s ability to perform “true” police work, and may label her as vulnerable (Westmarland 34). Vulnerability is not an aspect that is merely harbored in an “emotional body”, after all, many officers live by a code that forces a mindset of “any day could be your last” on the job. Some types of emotions presented on the job can be beneficial to both male and female officers. For example, males tend to have a more difficult time coping with victims being that they may seem too direct or forceful upon collecting a statement. In situations like these, male policemen often try to drive the information out of a victim as quickly as possible because they don’t typically like to sit and wait for a victim to be ready to expedite their statements; males want to solve the problem “now” (Silvestri 129). Female’s tend to outweigh a situations possible loopholes before tackling it head on (Silvestri 129). While this can be extremely helpful in cases of hostage negotiation, and working with women and children who have been violated, it may not be as helpful in other cases where quick action is the difference between life and death for an officer of the law. Women take an approach to helping the victimized that may not retrieve the information as quickly as male officers, but they empathize the victim’s feelings of trauma a little more accurately than male officers do, which tends to gain trust from victims more smoothly. Children of abuse as well as female rape victims are especially vulnerable in there first few hours after being assaulted, which in turn then puts high amounts of pressure on police departments to deliver the best candidate to obtain information about the assailant. Children are even more difficult to cope with after enduring traumatic events such as abuse, because in most cases they shut down and have severe trouble recognizing and comprehending the evil that was done to them. Incidents such as these explain how an emotional understanding by police officers often associated with that of the “community” model, can play a crucial aid in the likelihood of victims “opening up” more often to officers displaying this aura.
While women police officers today are still struggling to gain earnest equality within policing, many have proven to be both physically and mentally reliable to perform the tasks of the position. Many go on record in saying that “being there” and “being heard” may not ever occur simultaneously, and for the most part they have to earn their respect that’s “just the way it is” (Silvestri 132). However, the courage within women police officers prevails the most when they continue to be active officers of the law because they are dedicated to police work. Shedding a light on merely one side of the spectrum of the two policing model’s explained may not be the right solution for a promising future of police work. However, incorporating the two to work together in a way that creates both a physically and mentally durable body needed to performing the most effective police work, could be the answer to further generations of prosperity on the force.