CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.0 Background of the Study
There is no doubt that devotion to the highest professionalism standards is vital to the law enforcement profession. As a result, for the last several decades, numerous efforts have been undertaken to increase professionalism in the law enforcement. According to Burke & Mikkelsen (2005), these efforts have drawn on predictors of professionalism such as education, rank, age, experience, marital status and the hours work. Most importantly, law enforcement professionalism has been viewed in the light of better police education (Boulin-Johnson, ToID, & Subramanian, 2005). Magazines, newspapers and journal articles quote several studies supporting the view that better education of law enforcement officials increases their performance. As a result, police departments are setting up minimum educational requirements for applicants to be enlisted in police service. With emphasis on increased education requirements for law enforcement officials, police agencies, commissions, practitioners and researchers have advocated for higher education requirements on various accounts. Some have argued that law enforcement is increasingly becoming complex, which posed the need to increase the minimum education requirements (Flavin & Bennett, 2001). Others have proposed that law enforcement officials with better education tend to be more rational thinkers and demonstrate a greater humanistic bent when compared to less educated law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement professionals have different perceptions regarding the aspect of professionalism. Dick & Jankowicz (2001) point out that, police officers have dissimilar understanding regarding the facets that constitutes professionalism. For instance, some are likely to perceive professionalism as the ability of tackle dangerous situations without resorting to the use of force whereas others perceive professionalism as the ability to forge relationships with citizens. For others, professionalism in law enforcement may involve exhibiting control and authority; being responsible for ones decisions and actions; respecting the civil rights of people; being well-informed about the regulations, procedures and law; and the ability to initiate appropriate initiatives in circumstances needed police action. According to Garcia (2003), all these attributes constitute professionalism in law enforcement, which implies that there are various predictors of policing professionalism.
Despite numerous studies focusing on the aforementioned predictors of policing professionalism, it is evident that past studies have not placed emphasis on the role that gender plays in determining professionalism in law enforcement. According to Grant (2000), it is highly likely that the innate differences between men and women come to play in influencing the policing approaches, which in turn determine their respective commitment towards professionalism. Since there is no definitive model of professionalism in law enforcement, Lonsway (2003) asserts that different police officers are likely to have different views regarding professionalism; however, the bottom line is the universal belief in professionalism albeit the differences regarding their understanding of the same. According to Rabe-Hemp (2008), when placed in a similar scenario, male and female police officers are likely to approach the scenario differently to achieve the same goal, wherein Seklecki & Paynich (2007) hypothesize that female police officers tend to adopt a more compassionate approach compared to their male counterparts who tend to be more aggressive. In line with this view, it is apparent that gender differences cannot be underestimated as a key predictor of police performance professionalism (Boulin-Johnson, ToID, & Subramanian, 2005). In this regard, this study sought to explore the interplay between gender differences and professionalism in law enforcement. In aIDition, this study explores the different gender characteristics of male and female police officers with regard to dealing with the public and their commitment to the professionalism in law enforcement.
1.1 Aims and Objectives
The primary objective of this study is to explore the gender differences of police officers with respect to their commitment to professionalism in law enforcement. In aIDition, this research seeks to explore the gender-different characteristics of male and female police officers with respect to their policing approaches and their commitment towards professionalism in law enforcement. The following are the specific objectives of this study:
1.2 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were used for this study:
H1: Female officers are less likely to be involves in the use force situations when compared to their male counterparts
H2: Female officers are more committed to the law enforcement profession than their male counterparts
1.3 Importance of this Study
Owing to the fact that the role of gender as a predictor of police professionalism and performance has been underexplored, this study will be of ultimate significance in outlining the definitive role that gender plays in influencing police professionalism. Most initiatives aimed at improving police professionalism have placed emphasis on factors that are universal across all professions such as education; these initiatives do not take into account the distinctive nature of policing profession. As a result, this study will be instrumental in pointing out the significance of gender in influencing police professionalism. In this regard, the findings of this research will provide important insights to police departments regarding how gender influences police performance and professionalism, which will help in ensuring that women police officers are placed in gender-appropriate situations such as those that do not need the use of force. In aIDition, this study will help in augmenting the existing literature regarding professionalism in law enforcement, especially with regard to the underexplored aspect of gender differences.
1.4 Research Plan
This first chapter provided an insight to the background knowledge, aims and objectives of the research and the importance of the study. The second chapter, literature review, attempts to review prior and existing literature and empirical studies that have attempted to discuss predictors of professionalism in law enforcement, especially those related to gender differences. First, the chapter provided a brief overview of the aspect of professionalism in law enforcement, how it is measured and its respective predictors. The third chapter, methodology, provides a detailed overview of the research methodology including research designs and their justifications in relation to meeting the research objectives. Chapter 3 also provides an overview of the methods of data collection and their respective justifications, ensuring the validity and reliability of data, data analysis approaches and limitations of the research methods.
Chapter 4 analyses and presents the data gathered from the study. In aIDition, the chapter interprets the data in accordance with the research aims and objectives. Chapter 5 summed up the conclusions according to the detailed findings presented in Chapter 4, and made appropriate recommendations.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
The first female law enforcement officer, Alice Stebbins, in the US was employed in 1910. Stebbins successfully petitioned that women were essential in policing. According to Stebbins, female law enforcement officers would aID special competencies to the field of policing. The special competencies would enable the policing field to effectively deal with crimes related to juvenile and females. A century later, Stebbinss argument remains one of the major reasons why female law enforcement officers are perceived to be significant to policing. The belief in strengths and weakness that are unique to gender is common. According to Tipper (2004), traits are perceived to be inborn or acquired via socialization. In aIDition, traits are largely viewed as gender specific. For instance, women are perceived to be more nurturing, communicative, empathetic and less aggressive than men are. The history of law enforcement has shown that special abilities possessed by female law enforcement officers have functioned as a double-edged sword. According to Burke & Mikkelsen (2005), these abilities have enabled the full incorporation of women into policing field. Before 1973, female police officers were hired in Womens Bureaus, and they were disproportionately tasked with dealing with crimes related to women and juvenile even after the dissolution of these bureaus (Lonsway, 2003). On the other hand, special competencies have also been a primary reason for the proliferation and integration of women in law enforcement (Lonsway, Moore, Harrington, Smeal, & Spillar, 2003). The representation of female officers increased rapid in 1980s and 1990s. According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001), this was because of the wide spread adoption of the community-oriented policing model. This model possibly supported the traits believed to be inherent among women. As the number of women increased in law enforcement, issues related to gender differences also emerged and began taking a center-stage. In this regard, this section of the research reviews previous studies about gender differences in law enforcement.
2.1 Sex Role Theory
Much of the history of special competencies point out that they were obtained biologically. In concurrence with this history, Dick & Jankowicz (2001) asserted that women and men behave differently because they were born different. It was until recently that the adoption of traits and behaviors been studied as an outcome of socializations. The sex role theory affirms that children are raised to obtain different traits according to their gender (Silvestri, 2007). This theory sets out to elucidate the adoption of traits by women and men through the belief that children are raised to acquire different traits. According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001) and Garcia (2003), the sex role theory does not suggest that men or women naturally hold specific traits. However, it argues that traits are acquired and reinforced through both childhood and adulthood via interacting with friends, families, media and other social institutions. According to this theory, men are brought up to be aggressive and goal oriented, while women are brought up to be dependent and passive (Lonsway, Moore, Harrington, Smeal, & Spillar, 2003). In aIDition, individuals who do not conform to the behaviors perceived by their genders are regarded as deviant.
According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001) and Burke & Mikkelsen (2005), women who join law enforcement might not naturally engage in what the society regards as stereotypically feminine behavior. Because of the divergent ways in which women and men are brought up, Grant (2000) suggests that women are capable of drawing upon a much wider range of policing styles than men. It is widely believed that women enforce the law in a significantly different manner and depend more on interpersonal communication than physical strength. Lonsway (2003) expects that this focus on interpersonal communication will stay with women as they progress through the law enforcement hierarchy. As such, Dick & Jankowicz (2001) affirms that this will lead to a style of leadership that encourages participation and communication. Despite women being underrepresented in administrative policing positions, it is widely believed that increasing the number of women in management will lead to significant organizational change.
According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001), the belief of distinct competencies and Sex Role Theory has hampered female law enforcement officers in their efforts to gain same roles as male officers in patrol. Though women are perceived to have special competencies, which make them more able than men in dealing with certain situation, like those involving juvenile and female criminals, they are perceived to be less able than men when dealing with violent tasks that demand aggression and strength (Flavin & Bennett, 2001). The perception that women officers will be perfect in certain situation impounds them to those fields. As such, they are denied the opportunities to advance and develop in other areas of policing. According to Garcia (2003), such expectations will lead to greater censure if women officers fail to fulfill gendered expectations.
According Burke & Mikkelsen (2005), the prevalence of treatment and sexual discrimination of women officers is based on the expectation of the society that women will fail in the policing field. Tipper (2004) argues that if this was true, then problems faced by women officers could be handled by a breakdown of roles of women, anti-discrimination laws, and equal opportunity programs. Truthfully, few researches have examined the impact of gender on the daily aspects of law enforcement. According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001), female police officers are promoted as worthwhile hires based on the assumed empathetic and communicative abilities. At the core of the argument, lies a sexist concept of what it implies to be a man versus a woman. Men are perceived to be collective, decisive and rational, when compared to women. All these traits of women are essential for a police officer. The notion that women hold the direct opposite of these traits is entirely harmful to their image within the law enforcement field. In aIDition, this notion serves only to promote the idea that women cannot and will never be capable of policing effectively as men.
The supporters of special or professional abilities possessed by women officers suggest that increasing the representation of women will increase effectiveness in the field. This is supported by Garcias (2003) belief that women are more efficient in dealing with domestic violence, establishing a relationship with the community, and are less costly than men are, because they are unlikely to be engaged in excessive force complaints. Ironically, despite the positive claims, various negative claims have been propagated. Women officers are perceived to lack the physical strength essential for police profession. This claim has been held regardless of the countless researches that have shown that women, like men, are able to handle potentially violent situations (Burke & Mikkelsen, 2005).
Traits such as non-aggression, passivity, aggression, and competitiveness have been gendered, though they are innate in every individual (Boulin-Johnson, ToID, & Subramanian, 2005). The perception that women officers will be show passivity and non-aggression has been occasionally deployed to inhibit their recruitment in law enforcement. In fact, if women were to act in the way approved to them, it appears that they would never be capable of successfully entering into law enforcement. Women face significant opposition as they advance in rank. This is perhaps because of the notion that the womens traits are contrary to the leadership positions. It is apparent that some men officers are offended by the idea of having a female officer as their superior (Flavin & Bennett, 2001).
According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001), Sex Role Theory is not an adequate explanation of the differences between women and men in policing. The basic premise of the theory that the more frequent success of men is because of the fact that they are brought up to have goal-oriented behaviors and traits ignores the differential level of power men have exerted over women.
2.2 The Effects of Organizational Culture
Similar to any other organizations, there exists both informal and formal culture in every police agency. However, tension exists between the informal and formal culture. According to
Flavin & Bennett (2001), the formal culture is that of regulations and rules. On the other hand, the informal culture is that of daily interactions and group norms. The informal one seems to exert intense peer pressure upon officers to comply with prescribed standards and proscribed actions. Many police agencies in the US actively recruit women officers, though the profession remains an overwhelmingly dominated by men (Flavin & Bennett, 2001). According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, females comprise of 11.3 per cent of local full-time sworn officers, 12.9 per cent of sheriffs and 16.1 per cent of federal officers. The informal culture does not entirely accept women officers. However, it requires them take in the male culture (Burke & Mikkelsen, 2005).
Many women officers report that they dislike being under regular scrutiny and surveillance of male officers. Most female officers claim that they have to constantly prove themselves and are monitored closely. Male officers seem to embellish mistakes committed by female officers and use these mistakes as evidence that female officers are incompetent. As such, the mistakes of a single female officer can be generalized to all female officers.
The opposition of men to women in their organizational ranks results from their viewed threat to definitions of occupational culture, social status, work and self-image. Male officers seem to trust that male officers maintain the commonality of the brotherhood, such as the code of silence. However, they do not trust female officers to maintain the same solidarity (Flavin & Bennett, 2001). Male officers fear that women officers will not be loyal to the group when loyalty is required. This is because it will be a betrayal of their values and conscience. Male officers fear might be well founded because female officers report witnessing and experiencing ambivalence concerning the adherence to the code, particularly in the face of police harassment, brutality, discrimination and misconduct.
The organizational culture of police agencies requires female officers to act like their male counterparts in order for them to be respected. The society provides police officers with extreme discretionary power that enables them to assess or define a situation within the boundaries of protocol and policy. Since men and women officers are likely to view and define situations differently, they might make varied decisions and take varied actions when reacting to a situation. For instance, a decision of whether to arrest a perpetrator of domestic violence might be laden with political and social implications that are contrary to the way male officers practice their professionalism.
2.3 Differences between Genders Regarding the Understanding of Professionalism
Since 1972, when the Equal Opportunity Act and Title VII eliminated many barriers encountered by women in their efforts to work as patrol officers, various studies have examined the efficiency of female patrol officers. (Grant, 2000) These studies primarily examined womens ability to deal with riot controls. Some of the studies conducted in 1976 held that, women, if given access to similar training as men, are capable of performing every assignment in policing as male officers. Majority of the studies on women policing has examined their capability to perform activities, which have been perceived as the most masculine aspects of policing. This implies that the vast majority of the studies have therefore looked at whether women would show force or aggression when it is required of them. There is a perception that women officers would be undecided to show necessary aggression. This is because they fear being injured or injuring other people. Studies conducted by Burke & Mikkelsen (2005), showed that 7 out of 10 police officers were not willing to patrol with female officers in violent regions. Male officers strongly believe that female counterparts cannot efficiently support them in dangerous situations. This is because they lack physical strength.
Female officers are more often charged with dealing with incidents related to children or domestic than male counterparts are. They are also employed as community policing officers. This should not come as surprise by examining the history of women in law enforcement. However, women have shown that they are as capable as men in dealing with violent citizens. In fact, studies have shown that women perform better in calming agitated citizens. According to Dick & Jankowicz (2001), the presumption that women officers will be more likely to use deadly force in violent conversations because of the smaller physique is false. In arrest situation, studies show that women officers seem to deploy less force than men do. In aIDition, male police officers are more probable to resort to using weapons than the female officers are. Generally, female officers have been found to be less likely to deploy threats, arrests, restraints and searches than male officers are. According to Rabe-Hemp (2008), female officers are less likely to be the subjects of police or citizen brutality complaints as compared to men officers.
Lonsways (2003) study shows that women officers report lower professional efficacy levels and higher attrition rates, as compared to male officers. The higher attrition of women officers is not because of job dissatisfaction, but because of the extra responsibilities placed upon them after having to take care of children. As much as men have lower percentage attrition rate, they are more likely to leave their occupation because of frustrations with the aspects of the work. Seklecki & Paynich (2007) and Rabe-Hemp (2008) found out that women officers seem to be younger, highly educated, less cynical, work in large department, drink less than male police officers do. The rate of suicide of women officers is higher than that of women in the entire population. However, their suicide rates are lower than the rate of male officers. In general, women are more like to act in a passive and empathetic way than men, but it is not true for female officers (Sklansky, 2006). Women officers are likely to offer commands and advice while involved in their duties. According to the observations made by Seklecki & Paynich (2007), women officers behavior resembles that of their men counterparts.
Only one research has affirmed that women are essential in patrol since 1972. The study was conducted by the Philadelphian Police Department as part of their argument against a sexual discrimination lawsuit. According to this study, women officers were capable of managing armed citizens, traffic stops and domestic disturbances than their men officers. Nevertheless, the study concluded that women officers were less effective and did not patrol as safely as men officers did. This justified discriminatory practices of the department.
According to Seklecki & Paynich (2007), referring to women officers as change catalysts is somewhat excessive. The presence of female officers has been associated with improvements in the image of the department, crime suppression and service capability. The presence of female officer has also been associated with the reassessment of hiring and policy practices. Little differences have been revealed between the manner in which men and women patrol, though women are just as capable as male officer on patrol (Burke & Mikkelsen, 2005). In fact, the opinion of the public has changed within the last four decades. The public views both female and male officers at comparable competence levels.
Seklecki & Paynich (2007) argued that there are differences between male and female officers on patrol. However, none of these differences backs the perception that female officers are inherently more empathetic than male law enforcement officers are. Regardless of the gendered belief that female officers would be better suited to such work, there seems to be no apparent reason why women officers should be more often assigned to deal with incidents related to domestics and children.
It is frequent that the use of excessive force sparks intense and expensive law suits for many police agencies. According to Lonsway, Moore, Harrington, Smeal, & Spillar (2003), the concept of excessive force might evolve around verbal use, physical handling of subjects or prisoners, improper or tight handcuffing, or brutal punching, kicking and restraining the subjects. Gender seems to affect the initiative, handling and outcome of the situations where force has been used. Burke & Mikkelsen (2005) conducted a study to assess the likelihood of women officers using force. From a sample of 100 police officers, with 50 women and 50 women officers, they found out that about 45 per cent of male officers were likely to use force even when not compelled by the situation. Only 2 per cent of male officers used forced when required by the situation. 3 per cent of male officers did not prefer using force even when required by the situation. On the other hand, they found out that 30 per cent of women preferred using force as required by the situation. This portion of women officers affirmed that it was not right to use force when the subjects are willing to comply with arrest rules. 10 percent of women officers were likely to use force even when not compelled by the situation. Most of female of officers who used excessive force claimed that their subjects compelled them to do so. Most of them had practiced police profession for a very long time. Therefore, they had enough courage to handle violent situations requiring force.
Similarly, Seklecki & Paynich (2007) surveyed various lawsuits that were associated with the use of excessive force. According to their study, it was apparent that excessive force resulted in high costs associated with the use of force among police officers. According to this study, the city of Los Angeles paid about 79 million dollars in pre-trial judgments, judgment and awards against police officers. Grant (2000) examined 75 successful lawsuits, alleging improper or excessive force, which involved a payment of not less 15000 dollars. According to this study, involving 90 police officer charged for the excessive force, about 70 male officers used force. The study concluded that male officers were likely to use unnecessary force.
There is general presumption of difference gender. Nevertheless, in a strict adherence to this viewpoint, the similarities among women and men officers are largely neglected. Majority of studies has indicated that female and male police officers are drawn to law enforcement for the same reasons. In aIDition, according to Seklecki & Paynich (2007), there is little variation in how they perceive their roles. Despite the view of the contrary, women officers are no more likely to participate in stereotypical feminine behavior than their men counterparts are.
Whereas women officers do experience lesser violence levels, they also face higher levels of sexual discrimination and harassment. Regardless of the dissatisfaction levels women officers have with their treatment on the force, they appear to show high job satisfaction levels. Men and women officers work satisfaction, physical and psychological health, and social and coping resources are rated comparably. The ratings of both men and women offices are similar. Burke & Mikkelsen (2005) also indicated that the rank of an officer is more likely to have an effect on his or her judgment rather than gender. Therefore, virtually every research shows that female officers perform like their male counterparts. However, in some cases, they perform better than men officers do (Grant, 2000). Women officers have been perceived not to use excessive force and they are better as calming possibly violent situation. They are also good at creating a relationship with the community and handling domestic violence situation. Since women officers usually feel less support from supervisors and coworkers, their hesitancy to engage in the use of excessive force as male officers makes sense.
It is popularly recognized that female officer are able to perform 99 percent of police work, but not 1 per cent. What constitutes this 1 per cent? Strength has been found not to be associated with the effectiveness of law enforcement in managing violent situations. Whereas differences in gender have been found in the use of arrest and force, it is not recognized whether that is because assignment.
This chapter has examined various literatures by different authors concerning the gender differences in law enforcement. The sex role theory affirms that children are raised to obtain different traits according to their gender. This theory sets out to elucidate the adoption of traits by women and men through the belief that children are raised to acquire different traits. Traits such as non-aggression, passivity, aggression, and competitiveness have been gendered, though they are innate in every individual. The perception that women officers will show passivity and non-aggression has been occasionally deployed to inhibit their recruitment in law enforcement. Similar to any other organizations, there exists both informal and formal culture in every police agency. However, tension exists between the informal and formal culture. The formal culture is that of regulations and rules. On the other hand, the informal culture is that of daily interactions and group norms. The organizational culture of police agencies requires female officers to act like their male counterparts in order for them to be respected.
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Research methodology chapter is a very significant section since it highlights the information needed in assessing the reliability and validity of the investigation. As such, detailing an accurate description of the study methods and its rationale are essential in affirming the validity of this report. According to Kumar (2005), the study methods used are influenced by the context of the research and the research hypothesis of questions. Walliman (2006) pointed out that empirical studies have the main goal of explaining the present state of affairs by using predetermined measurement variables. Furthermore, it is extremely important to consider the perception that the study relies more on probability. As a result, the research methods utilized in this research try to explain the role played by a specific predetermined variable in influencing the results. It is imperative for this study to emphasize strongly on the results, together with a comparison of the available conceptual frameworks in order to explore the gender differences of police officers with respect to their commitment to professionalism in law enforcement. The chapter discusses the research methods used in the study. The chapter will include a discussion of research design, data collection methods, population and sample size, sampling procedures, research instruments and data analysis methods.
3.1 Research Design
According to Panneerselvam (2004), research design refers to a general plan highlighting the necessary steps needed in answering the research questions or proving the research hypotheses, and achieving the objectives of the research. McNeill (2005) pointed out that the research design has an accurate objective drawn from the research hypotheses or questions, and specifies
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