This Type of Cop Is the Least Likely to Use Excessive Force

July 23rd 2016

Tricia Tongco

Recent police shootings of unarmed Black men is leading many Americans to ask themselves about possible solutions to address institutional racism in policing.

Some critics suggest diversifying the police force in terms of race. But there may be another path: Hire more women. Research suggests that female officers are less likely to use excessive force, are more likely to de-escalate potentially violent situations, and may be more honest.

Law enforcement remains a male-dominated profession. The percentage of men in policing has fallen from 97 percent in the 1970s to 88 percent now. But policing remains less gender balanced than even the active-duty military in the United States (84.9 percent male in 2014), The Cut reported.

Hiring more female police officers may be an overlooked option for curbing police brutality, The Washington Post reported. Here are some reasons dug up by reporter Danielle Paquette:

  1. Female officers' policing style characteristically focuses on de-escalation, community-building, and less aggressive tactics, while their male counterparts tend to be "impulsive risk takers who have a tendency to use physical violence," according to a 1996 study.
  2. Female officers are also more likely to report having observed unethical behavior than their male counterparts, regardless of rank, according to a 1994 study.
  3. Male officers tend to be more expensive for taxpayers: "The average male officer costs somewhere between two and a half and five and a half times more than the average female officer in excessive force liability lawsuit payouts," in addition to being more than "eight and a half times more likely than his female counterpart to have an allegation of excessive force sustained against him," according to a 2012 report.

The last point makes for a strong economic argument for hiring more women in law enforcement.

Let's take a look at data about the Los Angeles police, cited by the Post:

"Los Angeles, for example, paid $63.4 million to victims over that 10-year period for judgments or settlements in lawsuits that involved excessive force by a male officer. Just $2.8 million was paid out for cases involving female officers."

Whether or not you side with Black Lives Matter, hiring more female officers may be a better option for the communities police serve and better for the bottom line of local police agencies and taxpayers.

[h/t The Washington Post]