- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Police departments in Minnesota and across the country could benefit from hiring more female officers, according to some women’s advocates.

They say a larger amount of female officers on a force can help diffuse tension between police and the public. Experts and some of those officers say that’s because women tend to be less physically imposing than male officers and are much less likely to use excessive force.

“The research shows that, overwhelmingly, women are less authoritarian in their approach to policing,” said Katherine Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “They are much better at defusing a potentially violent confrontation before it becomes violent.”

Female officers in several metropolitan police departments are several times less likely than their male counterparts to be named in excessive force complaints and lawsuits, according to a 2002 study conducted by the National Center for Women in Policing.

In Minneapolis, which wasn’t included in the 2002 study, officer conduct lawsuits have cost taxpayers more than $21 million over the past 11 years, Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1uNm1yM ) reported. More than 50 officer conduct lawsuits have been filed since 2010, only three of which involved female officers accused of using excessive force.

Female officers were only involved in about 13 percent of the nearly 400 “use of force” reports filed by Minneapolis police officers last year. Those reports are required whenever an officer uses physical restraint, chemical irritants, Tasers or firearms.

Chief Janee Harteau, the first female police chief in Minneapolis, has said she would like to see more women in the police department, which is only about 15 percent female, according to recent city data.

Out of the state’s 10,000 licensed law enforcement officers, 11 percent are female, according to the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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