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Inclusion of Women in Law Enforcement Agencies

Police was traditionally a very conservative body with the limited access of women to service in the police. Historically, male dominated in the police, whereas women were employed very seldom in the police. The huge disparity between men and women in the police was determined by multiple factors, among which the domination of men in the society and the specificities of work of police officers were the major reasons for the exclusion of women from the police services. Nevertheless, the rise of feminism in the mid-20th century and the Civil Rights movement has started to change the attitude of Americans to women in the police. Instead of the biased, stereotyped views on women in the police, a more tolerant view was developed. However, the change in the public attitude to women in the police did not bring fast and consistent changes to the police because the police was still male dominated and the access of women to the police service was still quite limited. In such a situation, female police officers had to match basic requirement to a policeperson and these requirements were often determined by men. In addition, the work in police was considered to be a traditionally male job that also prevented many women from joining the police. Nevertheless, today, many women join the police, although they still face a problem of biased attitude to them from the part of their male colleagues and top management of the police.

On analyzing the problem of inclusion of women in law enforcement agencies, it is important to dwell upon the basic requirements a police officer should meet. First of all, being a police officer, an individual becomes different from other people. At any rate, police officers are consistently different from the general population and this difference is determined not only by their professional skills or duties but also by the public perception of police officers and the relationship between the community and police. The complexity of this relationship often makes the work of police officers very difficult, while, on the other hand, if police officers and police departments manage to organize an effective interaction with the public and community, their work may be facilitated consistently.

First of all, it is important to underline that police officers cannot be similar to the general population because of the specificity of their work. In fact, the major goal of the work of police officers is the maintenance of the existing social order, the protection of rights and liberties of the general population. The safety of the general population is the ultimate goal of the work of any police officers. The latter can be achieved through the prevention of crime or the investigation of crimes that have been already committed.

In such a situation, police officers should develop specific skills and abilities as well as the model of behavior at large which make them different from the rest of the population. Police officers should not only protect rights and liberties of the general public but they should be also able to show an example of a positive social behavior. In other words, they cannot misuse their power in their personal interests or to punish offenders, etc. In fact such actions can deteriorate consistently the public image of the police and widen the gap between the police and community, which is unacceptable because an effective work of the police is impossible without it close interaction with the community.

However, police officers are not machines and their professional duties and the need to maintain the positive public image of the police, through the observance of the law, protection of the general public and prevention of crimes, can be substantially affected by the psychology and personal traits of police officers. At the same time, the professional work may affect the personality of police officers as well. What is meant here is the fact that often police officers cannot afford working in extreme situations when they confront criminals in their daily work. In such a situation, a crime becomes a routine, while the cruelty and severe offenses police officers may witness inevitably affect their psychology that can affect their personality dramatically, leading to changes in the behavior of police officers, which can become more aggressive, for instance, or problems in their personal life. For instance, many police officers are divorced and, what is more, it is their work and its impact on their personality that plays the determinant role in their decision to divorce or that ruins their family life (Dworkin, 201).

But, it is necessary to remember that police officers, cannot afford their work, do not work in the police for a long period of time, while those who remain are really united and work as a team. Moreover, the specific environment and conditions of work of police officers, including the high risks to their health and life contribute to the formation of a specific culture within police departments, which is characterized by almost familial relations.

In actuality, the major problem women face, while jointing the police and other law enforcement agencies is the conservatism of policy makers. What is meant here is the fact that men still dominate in the top management of the police and other law enforcement agencies. Naturally, they have a biased, superior attitude to women in the police because they believe that women cannot afford working in the police, where the physical shape of a police officer and his or her stamina are crucial for the effective work of a police officer. In such a situation, men holding the leading positions in the management of the police and other law enforcement agencies are very skeptical in regard to women’s capability to succeed in their work in the police.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that women do face substantial difficulties because men are physically stronger than women. Nevertheless, the modern system of training allows to prepare women to the service in the police to the extent that they could be as effective as men. Therefore, physiological difference between men and women are not really consistent, when access of women to the police is under a question.

At this point, another side of the problem becomes obvious – the glass ceiling that persists in the police. As it has been already mentioned above, men dominate in the top management of the police, whereas women have little opportunities to enter the top management level in the police. As a result, policies conducted within the police are male dominated and it is men who define policies of the police. Naturally, in such a situation, women turn out to be in a disadvantageous position compared to men.

In such a situation, cases of discrimination of women in the workplace environment in the police are not rate. In this regard, glass ceiling is just one of the manifestations of the discrimination of women in the police. As a rule, women have problems concerning the wage and promotion discrimination because they have fewer opportunities to obtain a promotion, even if their qualification is equal to that of men. The gender discrimination persists in the police but women keep struggling for their rights because today they have ample opportunities to work successfully in the police.

Actually, women insist on their inclusion in the police because they can be as effective as men in the police. They have professional knowledge, special training and basic skills, which are essential for a police officer. Nevertheless, their skills and qualification are often not enough to take a position in the police or to obtain a promotion in the police because of their gender. Women attempt to improve their position in the police through struggling against discrimination and attracting the public attention to their problems in the police.

However, opponents of the wider inclusion of women in the police argue that women cannot afford service in the police because of unbearable physical requirements for women. At this point, opponents of inclusion of women in the police return to the debate grounded on the physiological difference men and women, which is inconsistent in the contemporary society. To put it more precisely, women can use modern technologies to perform successfully. Therefore, they can close the gap between men and women in their physiological differences. In such a way, they can work effectively and use modern technologies and devices to perform their functions effectively. As a result, they can be successful and perform well in the police. In such a situation, the police should change the conservative attitude to women and admit women to the service in the police.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the inclusion of women in the police is one of the major challenges the modern society faces because women are willing to serve in the police. However, today, they still confront the problem of the inclusion and discrimination in the workplace, even if they find their place in the police. In fact, they have to overcome existing gender-related biases to take their place in the police. At the same time, they need to change the attitude of the society to women and to improve their position in the police. They confront numerous problems because the police is still dominated by men, who hold the leading position in the police. In such a way, they can succeed, if they overcome the existing biases and stereotypes.

 

References:

Barak, G. (ed.). (1998). Integrative Criminology. Aldershot: Ashgate/Dartmouth.
Brantingham, P. J. and Brantingham, P. L. (1991). Environmental Criminology. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Dworkin, R. (2005). Taking Rights Seriously. Harvard University Press.
Hayward, K. J. (2004). City Limits: Crime, Consumerism and the Urban Experience. New York: Routledge,
Siegel, L. J. (2003). Criminology, 8th edition. New York: Thomson-Wadsworth.