Male police officers, meanwhile, are disproportionately more likely than their female colleagues to draw citizen complaints about excessive force, wind up in excessive force lawsuits and be in involved in lawsuits that lead to significant victim payouts. Of the 54 officers charged with fatally shooting someone while on duty in the past decade, only two were women.
“I will say that women can’t rely on greater physical strength, so they generally rely on relationships and talking to people,” said Ellen Glasser, a retired FBI special agent who teaches criminology at the University of North Florida. “With more women officers, I think we would see fewer shootings and a different style of community policing.”
She warns people not to blindly accept stereotypes; some female officers are aggressive with citizens, and some male officers are gentle negotiators. Still, the macho culture of police academies can sometimes deter promising female recruits, she said.
“Half of criminal justice students in college are women,” she said, “so the number of female hires should be much higher.”
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