Police officers are meant to safe guard citizens against the various forms of crimes that take place in today’s society. Today, this role is played by both the women and men as everyone has equal rights in society. The acceptance of women taking carrers as police officials has come a long way. In the olden days, women were regarded as the weaker sex that is, both physically and emotionally while the men were the courageous one who headed their families and protected them from danger. For this reason, there is no way a man could have ever thought a woman was able to fit in their shoes.
Perceptions on women in policing
People still think that women are not courageous enough to take up such roles. Moreover, people think that women will let their emotions interfere with their work hence they are not suited for the job.
Why would women want to become police officers?
The answers to this question are as varied as the women themselves. Some dreamt of becoming police officers although they do not quiet understand how they got such a non traditional dream, Some have family members and friends in law enforcement and have been encouraged to take up the career, others have seen it as an exiting career as opposed to the traditional women jobs, some want to prove to their male counterparts that what they can do a woman can do and do it better, or as a result of a dare from their colleagues. “But the one reason that most of them share is that they would like to be able to help other people in society (Schulz, 2004).”
Advantages women police chiefs bring to the police force
Although policing is one of the few remaining strongholds of male dominance, in greater numbers, women have been challenged them. Males have dominated the most of the law enforcement agency especially in the military. “Around the 1970s an increasing number of women have took up the battle to invade the hallowed male halls of this bureaucracy (Wells & Sowers, 2000)” and have brought a lot of advantages in the police force with it. Some of the positive attributes include: women take their work very seriously and passionately. Just as they would run their own homes, the woman police chief ensures that all the police departments are well coordinated and activities are well supervised and monitored. Through this, the woman police chief ensures that the police operations are on course.
Women are good at listening and offering advice. This makes them good counselors as they are able to listen to the views and opinions of their workmates as well as the general public. People can easily approach them and this makes it easier for people to share with them how they feel about the job and what they would like to be improved. “The women Police chief brings balance in the police force (Wells & Sowers, 2000).” People will be assured that more women can get in the force as they will continually fight for the rights of other women especially when they see someone is talented but due to male biasness they are not considered therefore they can rally for them so that they are chosen.
The woman police Chief just like any other police chief represents the police departments in public relations matters. They will always want to provide a good image of what they do and this makes them better supervisors and they ensure that they maintain discipline among the employees.
The process of becoming a police chief
Just as medical students spend many years in school before they become doctors, so is the road to becoming a police chief long and challenging. Women who have become police chiefs are a living example that all things are possible if you put your heart and mind to it. The process usually starts when people are being recruited. When those who have the heart and all that is required, they undergo harsh training conditions to become police officers. Once a police officer, they would like to go to the next level just as humans need to progress, after working as police chiefs and doing a good job at it, they can decide to be detectives if they please or go on to be sergeants. After this, they will move up the ranks to become, Lieutenant, captain, Major, and a then commander.
Upon reaching here, they may see that they have come far but since they are so close to the top, they may as well apply for the police chief job. Because they will be elected, women candidates have been forced to confront these dilemmas of style and presentation much earlier in the selection process. “Candidates’ opponents would have to make sure that to have raised the issue of sex/ gender during the campaign so that employees understand who they will be better sited for the job (29, breaking).” They may be very successful and eventually get the job because they have all the qualifications that are needed. We can therefore say that the path toward Police Chief is very challenging and takes years of hard work.
Challenges facing women police chiefs
The police chiefs deal with dangerous people who may harm them. They may fall victims of attacks in that law offenders who had been caught, imprisoned and released and were planning revenge they could easily harm them if they know their where about. Furthermore, women officers as well as men have been killed in the line of duty. When the people who work for them are harmed or lose their lives, their womanly instincts obviously takes full course and they feel remorseful. Sometimes they get affected psychologically especially when the victims are people they really liked and would have loved to see them accomplish their personal and career goals. This will therefore make them afraid in sending off their staff to very dangerous mission but when they took their oaths of office, they vowed to protect the lives and peoples property hence they have to lead and act as leaders under any circumstances.
The police departments have fallen victims of numerous corruption allegations and the police chief, who is the head of all the departments, will be held accountable for the actions of those under her. Excessive use of force by the police has also been another issue that the public usually complain about and certain people have been seriously hurt while others have died in the hands of such police men and women (Silvestri, 2003). There have been cases of discrimination especially in dealing with race and ethical issues such that they tend to blame certain members of a particular race for most of the crimes.
When all these internal issues take place, all the accusing fingers will be on the woman police chief if she is in charge and sometimes they have no idea of such occurrences but are left to take the blame for things they did not do. On top of this, “they will have to deal with incompetent police officers as sometimes during the recruitment process, some people are favored and this is one of the underlying issues that cause most of the internal problems in the police force (Scarborough & Collins, 2002).”
Discrimination and intimidation
“The society has not full embraced the roles played by women Police and sometimes people look down on them (Natarajan, 2008).” This is evident in their places of work as they have to work twice or more than their male counterparts in such positions so that they get the respect they deserve from their subordinates as well as other officials people whom they usually interact with in the course of their duties. They have to overcome this fear which is not an easy task as sometimes their efforts go unnoticed.
Lack of corporation by members of the society is another issue. When the people they fight to protect day and night are stubborn in giving information that the police may find useful, this does not really help them much in fighting crimes as they have to plead with people thus wasting a lot of time. This will make them frustrated and at times feel like the job I dragging them down.
They concentrate so much on their work that they can easily neglect other sectors of their lives. For example, if someone has a family, they have to play the mother role as well be a wife. “Sometimes they get so consumed with their work that they have little time to spend at home and run their families (Brown & Campbell, 1994).” The children may start engaging in activities that are not mortally right like taking alcohol, drugs or sexual activities. These are the kind of things the mother deals with which are now in her family. The father might feel that they do not spend a lot of time with the wife and this brings about marital problems. Moreover, they do not have a social life as they spend most of their time solving crimes. Such problems at home may make the chief not to perform at work like they are supposed to.
Lack of support from family members and friends sometimes, the husbands of police chiefs may feel intimidated by their wives as they are superior to them and this will also affect their work. This could be that their wives earn more than them or that wherever they go the focus is always on the wife. They therefore do not have mentors or people they can look up to for the support they need especially in dealing with stress at work.
Solutions to the woman police chief challenges
Families, friends, he public and fellow work mates need to show support to the woman police chief because that will be the only way that they will see that their services are required will do work in peace and enjoy what they are doing.
The male officers need to embrace the roles women can play and agree that at times someone of the opposite sex can out do them. This will ensure that discrimination and intimidation will reduce. Moreover, “they will be respected by the women police chief if the males make an effort to show them respect (Westmarland, 2001).”
The internal management strategies in the police departments should be improved so that there will be fewer cases that involve police departments. This will include things like the police men and women not accepting and supporting bribes or illegal practices in society because they would like to gain, not using excessive force on caught victims; they can simply arrest or warn them and not discriminating against any person regardless of their age, sex, color among other things. All this is to say that they must adhere to the ethics in place with regards to their scope of work.
The woman police chief can also go for trainings that do not necessarily deal with police matters so that they can know how they can deal with their personal/emotional and psychological feelings that affect their work. By undergoing such trainings, they will be able to control their feelings and not let them affect their work. Through this, they will remain on top of the game and become better and brave leaders.
City officials and other law enforcement agencies need to reward and recognize the work the women do in this business. This they can do by giving them awards for the work they do and this gives them morale to carry on with their work. Women police chiefs need to meet regularly so that they can discuss matters that affect women in the police force. This will create a forum where they can share their personal experiences and find solutions to matters that affect them.
The future of Police Women Chiefs
The future looks brighter because the women police chiefs who are there serve as mentors to other women who want to pursue such careers. Moreover, the community has seen the work they have done; which has turned out to be good or even better than speculated. Many women are now joining the police force and other law enforcement agencies and this means that in future, the ratio of men to women in such departments will be equal.
As much as we accept the roles men play in society, women can and have become better officers. The obstacles they face as they seek to reach the top of one of the most quintessentially male professional are many and diverse but such problems will not make them stop doing what they love which is the prevention of crime and the protection of both life and property. They need to be continually supported and such careers encouraged in the school systems.