Women and Minorities in Law Enforcement

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Women and Minorities in Law Enforcement
Working to end discrimination in this country has been a long and hard fought battle. In the early 1950's federal laws began to offer some help to those who had been persecuted against for so many years. During the Nixon Administration the federal government began to push employers to make a "good faith effort" to employ women and minorities and to track their progress. These were known as affirmative action programs. Some minorities contend that discrimination in the workplace is as still alive today as it ever has been; it is just better disguised. Opponents of affirmative action argue that it is reverse discrimination and that such laws only help to "stir the flames of racial hatred" (http://www.crf-usa.org/brown50th/adarand_affirmative_action.htm). A Little History behind Women in Law Enforcement

For women in law enforcement, it has been a long hard track to get where they are today and, though improvement are still being made today, there is still much to be done to increase the number of female police officers. The percentage of women in law enforcement is hovering under 15 percent and it is not increasing. (NCWP) Research and history have disproved the notion that women are not suited for law enforcement. Studies show that the female police officer traditionally employs a style of conflict resolution that puts communication before physical confrontation – a notable finding as law enforcement agencies come under fire for excessive force. Female officers are also particularly effective in situations involving other women, being able to help victims of sexual assault or child molestation because they may be more apt to open up to the sensitivity of a female officer.

Though 15 percent may seem like a low number for 2006, it is clearly higher today than a hundred and fifty years past: ·In 1845, New York officials hired two women to work as matrons in the city's two jails after the American Female Moral Reform Society campaigned for the matron positions to be created. They hoped the police would hire matrons for the police stations as well; however the police department itself blocked this from happening. ·Mary Owens received the rank of policeman from the Chicago Police Department in 1893. She was a widow whose husband had been an officer for the department. Occasionally, a department would employ widows as a type of death benefit for their husbands. Early on, police departments seldom offered death benefits and hiring widows was a way of compensating them. Mary Owens worked for thirty years for the department assisting on cases involving women and children, and she was the first woman to receive arrest powers. ·In 1905, Lola Baldwin was given police powers and put in charge of a group of social workers in order to aid the Portland, Oregon Police Department during the Lewis and Clark Exposition. She was the first woman to work as a sworn police officer in the United States. City leaders felt that some measures had to be taken to protect the "moral safety" of the young woman of Portland. Along with this same direction, in 1908 the city created the Department of Public Safety for the Protection of Young Girls and Women, making Baldwin the director of the program. These women were motivated by a sense that women activists contributed a positive, feminine approach to addressing society's ills. Throughout the United States, women were hired to protect and administer to incarcerated women and juveniles. During the Great Depression came changes in how employment was popularly viewed and women's employment suffered because of this. During the depression when jobs began to become scarcer, women's career aspirations suffered. In the mid 1930's the FBI was formed, and law enforcement officers began to project a role of "combatant of crime," turning away from the idea that police work should be done by women. During World War II, changes were made in the personnel...
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