Women in Law Enforcement Careers: A Guide for Preparing and Succeeding

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9780131191297: Women in Law Enforcement Careers: A Guide for Preparing and Succeeding
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For courses in Women's Issues in Policing. A unique and valuable resource for women who are interested in careers in law enforcement, this text addresses-in a straightforward, no-nonsense fashion-the types of issues, problems and challenges faced by women seeking to enter the often daunting and veiled world of policing. The text incorporates information from interviews with more than 100 female law enforcement officers across the United States who share their trials, tribulations and successes.

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Vivian Lord and Ken Peak have combined their 60 years of policing and academic experience to write the definitive book for women of all ages interested in entering the often daunting, veiled world of policing. In a blunt, no-nonsense fashion, Lord and Peak comprehensively address the issues facing women eager to cross the thin blue line into this traditionally male-oriented occupation.

  • How can women prepare for the selection process?
  • What are the variety of jobs available to women in the policing world?
  • How do women deal with the challenges of male prejudice?
  • How does the general public react to female officers?
  • How does policing affect their personal relationships?
  • What are the unique issues of female officers of color?

Lord and Peak first pulled together a plethora of varied and scattered studies that evaluate and analyze the role of women in policing. Then, to bring a human voice and conscience to those studies, the authors interviewed more than 50 veteran street officers, investigators, supervisors, and police chiefs who are in law enforcement, to answer many of the questions women might have about working in the law enforcement community.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I do not believe in "careers" for women. A great responsibility rests upon woman – the training of children. This is her most beautiful task.
— Mother Jones, U.S. labor organizer, 1925

Mother Jones typifies the historical view of many people toward women's work, and might well represent the thinking of many people today in the United States and abroad. But while it is inarguable that the proper "training" and upbringing of children is one of the most serious responsibilities of any parent, it is also clear that today's women seek, obtain, and flourish in careers outside their homes to a far greater extent than Mother Jones could have foreseen.

This book is about women at work, specifically in the very demanding and often dangerous occupation of law enforcement. While there are many justifiable, significant hurdles to be negotiated by people of both genders seeking employment in this occupation, this book takes the reader through the challenges as they more specifically confront females.

During the past 30 years, the proportion of women serving as sworn law enforcement personnel has been growing, as several formal and often subjective barriers to hiring women have been modified or eliminated. Job discrimination lawsuits further expanded their opportunities; however, women remain overwhelmingly employed in the lowest tier of sworn police positions and in the proportion of women holding top command positions (captain and higher). Obviously, women still have a long distance to travel in order to reach parity with men in this occupation. First and foremost, police executives must see the value of utilizing women and vigorously recruit, hire, and retain them.

Furthermore, as the community-oriented policing and problem solving (COPPS) strategy continues to expand across the nation and the world, we believe that female officers can play an increasingly vital role in it. Indeed, many experts in the field believe the verbal skills that many women possess can help to usher in a "kinder, gentler organization."

The authors feel that this book serves as a unique and valuable resource for Momen who are interested in entering the often daunting and veiled world of policing. It also comprehensively addresses—in a blunt, no-nonsense fashion —the kinds of issues, problems, and challenges that these women will likely face in this quest.

This book incorporates interviews which concern career and background information of approximately 100 female law enforcement officers across the United States; these women are, or have been employed in federal, state, and local agencies, with patrol, specialized and investigative, and administrative responsibilities. (Note that the term law enforcement is used throughout the text to include federal, state, and local agencies; furthermore, "local" law enforcement includes both municipal police departments and county sheriff's offices.) Although a protocol of structured questions was used with ail of the women officers, most respondents provided information beyond that which was requested by the questionnaire, and the officers were also encouraged to expand on their responses. Most interviews lasted about two hours. The interviews were conducted privately and in their offices, patrol vehicles, and other locations such as public schools.

Learning Aids

Each chapter of this book begins with an overview of the chapter's key terms and concepts. It is recommended that the reader examine these preliminary items prior to reading the chapter. to obtain an overall flavor of chapter contents as well as some insight as to its more substantive aspects. In addition, at each chapter's end is a section entitled "Reader Learning Outcomes." explaining which of the chapter's main points the reader should understand upon its completion. Other instructional aids include figures, tables, and exhibits that are included in several chapters. Finally, a listing of relevant Web sites and addresses is provided in Appendix IV for readers who wish to independently obtain more information about various aspects of women in policing.

The authors bring more than 62 years of combined scholarly and policing backgrounds to this effort; as a result, the book contains a "real world" flavor not commonly found. From its introduction, written by Margaret Moore, Director of the National Center for Women in Policing, in Beverly Hills, California. Through the final chapter, the reader receives a penetrating view of what is certainly one of the most difficult and challenging occupations in America, and is written primarily for women wishing to enter its inner sanctum.

CHAPTER ORGANIZATION AND CONTENTS IN BRIEF

This book is composed of three major parts and nine chapters. Part 1, which includes four chapters, generally establishes the nature of the 'law enforcement field, and their evolution and contemporary status within it. Because many readers will have little knowledge about the levels and structure of law enforcement organizations, the role of the officer or agent, the nature of community policing and constitutional limitations that are placed on the police, we provide that kind of fundamental information in Chapter 1. Note that the federal law enforcement system has changed dramatically since 9/11 and the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security; therefore, that agency is the centerpiece of this chapter.

Chapter 2 provides a historical overview of women as they began to enter policing; beginning prior to 1920 and continuing up to the present day. The several reforms for, and greater responsibilities that were placed on women officers are included in this discussion. Chapter 3 reviews tile several legislative enactments and court decision that served to help open the doors to women in the workplace, generally.

Chapter 4 focuses on the contemporary nature of women in policing, providing a quantitative profile of their representation in various types of agencies, their representation as supervisors and managers, and personal glimpses into their early and contemporary lives. An underlying theme is that prospective female law enforcement officers should carefully examine and select an agency for employment—one that has come to appreciate that women are important assets for law enforcement.

Part II consists of two wide-ranging chapters and generally explores the trials, tribulations, and successes of women in law enforcement today. Chapter 5 examines the research surrounding female officers' overall performance; the attitudes of male officers, citizens, and the female officers themselves concerning women in policing; how women cope and adapt to the challenges of the job, including occupational stress; some issues that are unique to female officers of color; and female officers' roles in community policing and problem solving.

Chapter 6 details the "hurdle process"—the selection, hiring, and training methods—that are employed by most local law enforcement agencies; this discussion will provide interested persons with a high degree of insight concerning the kinds of tests they would confront upon choosing law enforcement as a career and initiating the hiring process; they will also be better able to commence preparing themselves for this undertaking, both physically and mentally. Some anecdotal information gleaned from information provided by the veteran female officers is included.

Part III includes two chapters as well, Chapters 7 and 8, and focuses on the information obtained in a structured questionnaire of approximately 100 women who are now, or have been in the law enforcement field. Their journeys into this traditionally male-oriented and dominated occupation provide much wisdom and advice for others who wish to follow their example. These chapters also underscore the variety of job opportunities that are available to women at all levels of law enforcement.

Challenges of the future are discussed in Part IV's Chapter 9, including the kinds of general demographic and crime-related changes that are anticipated to come for the nation, and some major future issues that will concern selection and training, community policing, diversity, and the need for greater numbers of women in leadership roles.

Four Appendices complement the information that is provided in the foregoing chapters. First, to augment the discussion of the hiring process in Chapter 6, a sample resume is provided in Appendix I. Then, to demonstrate what some cities are doing to recruit more women into their police ranks, some successful strategies are shown in Appendix II. To further enlighten the reader about contemporary law enforcement (see Chapter I), an example of the community policing and problem solving strategy appears in Appendix III. And, as mentioned earlier, selected police-related Web sites are listed in Appendix IV.

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