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Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.



Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

Welcoming Females to Law Enforcement

Agencies need to make an effort to welcome women into law enforcement so we can all reap the benefits.

July 21, 2010  |  by Lynne Doucette - Also by this author

In 1910, Alice Stebbins Wells, a social worker, made history when she was hired by the Los Angeles Police Department as the first "policewoman" in the United States. Since that time women have continued to join the police community and have played a crucial role in changing the appearance of law enforcement.

Yet, women still only make up 4 to 15 percent of the police community, depending on the size of the agency. It would stand to reason that larger agencies have a higher percentage of females than smaller agencies. This is unacceptable when women currently make up 50 percent of the total workforce.

There is no doubt that men and women are equally capable of being police officers, and there are numerous advantages to adding women to the roster. Females are capable of solving problems and have better communication skills. They're a tremendous asset when it comes to investigating crimes against women and children, and they tend to be better at defusing hostile situations. Female officers are less likely to use excessive force, therefore reducing liability.

Women will also lower the number of sexual discrimination and harassment complaints an agency may suffer. Now, I know that sounds strange, but think of it this way. The more women there are in an agency, the more likely the "atmosphere" will change. Therefore, as women join a department the men will become more comfortable with their presence and the inappropriate behavior will cease.

So as a department, how do we successfully recruit qualified females? In today's world, law enforcement agencies are faced with numerous challenges in recruiting qualified candidates of any gender. A decade ago, when a rural Maine police department had an open position they could expect 100-200 candidates to apply. Today, they're lucky to get 20.

With all this being said, are current recruiting tools missing out on the female population as potential police candidates? Are we, as a police community, doing things that hinder or scare women away from this job? I think most departments would agree they are interested in hiring qualified female candidates. However, they are challenged in locating and recruiting women.

The first thing an agency has to look at is its job description. Prior to any agency implementing strategies to hire female officers, they first must look at, and possibly modify, their agency's job description. When was the last time your agency's job description was reviewed? Does it contain language that could be considered gender biased?

Many departments still place a heavy burden on brute strength and physical skills and not enough on mental abilities such as communication and mediation skills. The job description should accurately describe the duties an officer is expected to perform.

Second, are we as a society still stereotyping police work as a male role? Just look at Hollywood and all they do to illustrate our job, and how inaccurate we know it really is. Does the civilian population know that?

Hollywood's version of police work is high-speed chases, gun fights, hostage situations, and cleverly orchestrated fist fights. We all have experienced these types of situations, but are they our day-to-day routines? No. So does the Hollywood version of police work send a message to women that this job is impossible?

Finally, because there is a lack of women in the field of law enforcement, many young girls don't have the opportunity to see policewomen as role models in the community. Recently, however, Hollywood has given the public exposure to females in police work with reality shows such as "Police Women of Broward County" and "Police Women of Maricopa County." It will be interesting to see if these types of shows will change the perception and percentage of women in law enforcement.

I fear the existing tempo of hiring women will continue to keep us under represented within the law enforcement community. Given the complex challenges facing police agencies today, I believe the advantages for hiring women have never been more obvious.

Stay tuned for more blog posts from Sgt. Doucette about recruiting women to law enforcement.

Tags: Hiring Female Officers, Alice Stebbins Wells


Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

BodyCop @ 7/22/2010 7:03 PM

I wonder if nobody looks at the obvious. Could it be that those who qualify as police officer often qualify to be dentist, lawyers, business owners, engineers, executives, etc? Perhaps men of this intelligence are stupid enough to desire this oft-mundane, potentially dangerous job; while 90% of intelligent women are likely to go were the money, status and real power is; a private industry career. I frequently feel that I made a mistake fulfilling a childhood dream of a testosterone inflated male, rather than waiting until I was an adult to consider a wiser career path; cognitively and financially.

Think about this, there are more women in college then men. 75% of millionaires are women. 10% of police officers are women. The real problem is the valuation of cops.

Like doctors, cops go to college, to a specialty school (academy), finish Field Training (Residency), make split second life/death decisions, fill out lots of paperwork, and write prescriptions (PC affidavits). However, doctors can get paid millions of dollars, cops are lucky to get promoted, have no malpractice insurance (usually get hung out to dry), and the pay; while sometimes better than average, it’s usually not great. Then the flatfoot has to put up with the politics, criticism and un-appreciation because cop clients (like an emergency room patient) are usually there not because they want to be. Although our customers do get to have their liberties, freedom, cash, time and lives appendectimized (sure it’s not a word, but I’m not a doctor either), unlike a physician whose patients usually believe that the doc is truly attempting to help the punter.

I’m just saying, maybe a woman smart enough to be a cop might have better ideas for how to live her life. Or, maybe if cops became licensed professionals, able to practice their trade, rather than being certified pawns scrutinized as a mere trades worker of whatever political whim is currently in vogue; women might be entice

l connelly @ 7/22/2010 9:38 PM

BodyCop makes some very good points. Actually, painfully honest points. I am going to have to think this article over some because I have many people ask me about a career in law enforcement and there isn't a simple answer for men or women. As women we must ask ourselves "Will it be okay in the long run if I take the road less traveled?" Being a female officer means we are mostly alone in the job. Selecting it as a career means we are mostly alone in our personal lives as a result except for family. It is up to us to set up our own support systems to be the best we can while serving as officers.

ALLIE2577 @ 7/27/2010 4:34 PM

I want to be but no one around here in KENTUCKY is ever hiring

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