We are not all created equal.

If we were, we would all be boring robots with no unique differences. Police work is enhanced by these distinctions in personality, backgrounds, cultural and familial environments, skill sets, and physical makeup. It isn’t a competition but a blend of talents. The role female police officers play in law enforcement in comparison to their male colleagues recently brought about heated jabs in a personal conversation. So, naturally, I probed the matter until the glass was shattered.

In law enforcement we have to prove ourselves not only mentally but also physically. There are tests, many tests. We have vacillating viewpoints about gender differences in law enforcement. There are significantly many differences in attitudes and perspectives.

The female police officers tell all without a filter. What do you think would be the revealing factors of our own self-reflection and perceptions? Of course we gave equal opportunity to some male officers.

Have you ever felt you were party to the Salem Witch trials? Or the one tied to the burning stake? Yep. That’s pretty much how we roll.

Additionally, we do not want any bimbos in the uniform. We also try to protect our blue brothers from badge bunnies.

Female police officers are ruthless to their own, yet have a strong sorority if you pass the test. I felt the judgement by my sisters in blue when I was a rookie.  Later I know I projected that same pressure on to others as well. It is a harsh reality.

The historical journey has been interesting for blending the genders into policing.

To advance the profession forward, we need to know how we got here. Over the years, policing went through a period of decades of norming everyone into the same box, to transforming into a more progressive era of embracing our individual characteristics.

Departments have faced lawsuits because of unfair testing practices or biased treatments. This does not mean that there are not basic standards for all officers to pass. There are many skill sets we must have the same scores to qualify. Most organizations require a rigorous testing process, background tests, academy graduation, and a field training program.

The physical fitness tests are probably one of the biggest hot topics which have transformed over the years. The minimum physical requirements for candidacy in law enforcement can vary department to department or state to state.

My fight to prove myself was an uphill battle but worth every struggle. You cannot just walk into a uniform and expect acceptance nor the skills to permeate through the clothing. I had to work for it.

If you think proving yourself to the male officers is difficult, then try making the grade with the women. They will eat their own for lunch. It’s an exclusive club.

I did not mind. Sure, it was intense at times. It made me who I am today. There are many out there who lack grit. They will not survive police life.

Were my perceptions unique? What do other cops think out there? I had to ask around.

The following perspectives were gathered from law enforcement officials who serve or have served in various states throughout the United States. The contacts are comprised of law enforcement, both active and retired, of various rank and file. Additionally, the respondents have varying years of experience and serve at different size organizations spanning from the West Coast to the East Coast.

The female police officers speak out. Let’s get candid.

Here are some viewpoints from various female police officers:

  • ● “Every officer has to prove him or herself. Most of us think we have to prove ourselves even more so because we are working in a man’s world. We have to be twice as badass to make even a passing grade.”
    ● “We are often the glue to our team. We encourage camaraderie.”
    ● “We do not support other female officers on a professional level until they pass ‘the test.’ It is like a rite of passage. If it was a personal issue, we would be there no questions asked. But on the job, you have stringent requirements to be accepted by your female peers.”
    ● “I feel like a mother figure sometimes on my shift. They expect me to be like that with families as well.”
    ● “We hate to cry. Many times it is out of anger and frustration, not because we cannot handle things. When we cry, everyone thinks we are weak or crazy. If a male officer cries, we think things are really bad and we don’t know how to act around them. I guess in both instances, the first reaction is to ask, ‘What the heck is wrong with you?’ “
    ● “There is a perception that female officers understand what a child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence victim has gone through because we have an inherent ability to comprehend their suffering. I don’t know if the men think we have all been victims and can equate to that kind of violation, but it really takes a person who listens with empathy and has human compassion.”
    ● “The officer taking the report of a sexual assault does not have to be a female. There are a lot of perceptions that the male officers are uncomfortable with the crimes and pass them off to the female officers. There is another assumption that the victims would rather speak to a female officer.”
    ● “Nothing makes us more irritated when a male patrol unit calls for a female officer to pat down a female prisoner. Are you scared? I must have been trained during the stone ages because I was taught, “My prisoner, my car, my pat down.” I never called over a male officer to pat down any of my arrests.”
    ● “Men and women have differences in physical strength. It’s biology. I try to be as strong as I can be so that I am not viewed as a weak link. I do recognize the male officers are biologically stronger.”
    ● “Men have an advantage because they can pee almost anywhere. For us, it is a process and requires privacy and a clean facility.”
    ● “I think we have an inherent ability to work out problems very skillfully with our communication skills. We are quick on our feet and make great mediators on calls.”
    ● “I see gender differences every day. I guess I don’t think about them, I just know we are different and have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s teamwork. We need more diversity in all respects, not just gender.”
    ● “I prefer working with male colleagues than women. I find women are catty to each other and it seems like they have to spray their territory. They are very exclusive to other female cops. Absolutely hate working for female supervisors. Period. They think everything is a competition. I just want to do my job.”
    ● “We should use officers in the capacities they are best suited for based upon talents, not gender differences. “
    ● “I have to work twice as hard to be in the same place or level as the male officers.”
  • ● “I think we handle the human misery we see every day much better than the men and have better overall coping skills. We had to go through a bunch of hoops to get here and we filter out the ‘noise’ associated with the job.”

The gloves are off. Male law enforcement officers voice their perspectives.

Equal opportunity to voice from their frame of reference, the male police officers expressed:

  • ● “We are different. I think both genders bring necessary strengths to the profession. I have noticed female officers struggle with physical abilities at times. If a female is overweight and unhealthy, we might view them as weak and unable to handle themselves in a fight. However, if a male officer is overweight, they are still able to take care of business in a struggle. “
    ● “Women are naturally better with sensitive cases and special victims.”
    ● “If there is a promotional test, the woman candidate will be picked first over males with the same test scores. So there is that.”
    ● “I can work with anyone and do so despite my opinions and viewpoints. I enjoy, overall, working with everyone. But, if I am in a fight for my life, I want the big guy. If my backup ends up being a female and I am on the verge of gassing out, I am not thrilled about the partnership. How is she going to be able to help? For example, I think women do not belong in combat in the military and I think it takes a special female candidate to make it in police work. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great female cops.”
    ● “We have had some good officers and bad officers of both genders. Sometimes I see female officers getting an attitude like “turkey feathers up” on calls and it is very off-putting when they try to overcompensate with citizens.”
    ● “I have worked with some really great female officers and some really bad ones. I think the spectrum of good versus bad ones is more polar with the female officers. I find they can be vindictive in the work place if you get on their bad side.”
    ● “I worked most of my career in a department that had no female officers. When I transferred to a bigger department, I found female officers to have strengths that were an asset such as communication skills. Many have a calming ability in dynamic situations. A few have become good friends of mine.”
    ● “One of my best supervisors was a female. Complete badass, that woman. She was a great role model.”
    ● “It all boils down to some things the male officer handles better. Just like there are things the female officer can and does handle better. “
    ● “We should use officers in the capacities they are best suited for based upon talents, not gender differences. “
    ● “There is a perception women officers cannot handle the verbal abuse and hazing often associated within the rank and file. Wrong. They often times are just as foul mouthed and even raunchier than their male coworkers.”
    ● “They are physically weaker. Period.”
    ● “You do not mess with our female cops. They are mean as hell. Good people, though.”
    ● “The size of a woman officer is of concern. Are they big enough, strong enough to handle themselves or help out when stuff hits the fan?”
    ● “Their ability to handle stress and the mental garbage associated with the job is amazing.”
    ● “There is a perception women police officers are not mentally capable of dealing with the things seen and done on the job. When in actuality, they are more than capable in dealing with, and often times better at handling certain situations than male officers. “
    ● “Women officers tend to be more nurturing than their male counterparts, especially when dealing with children and domestic violence cases.”

Have you had similar or different experiences? What are your perspectives?

These responses did not surprise me but maybe opened a can of worms. Perhaps we should be more receptive to tackling conversations about any type of lingering issue. Did the responses leave you in bewilderment?

Diversity was not only thought of as a gender issue in the above officer’s minds, but it was defined as a range of characteristics including race and cultural differences. All the officers felt diversification needed improvement in each of their departments.

We are not created equal. Differences are an asset to a department and the community. Conclusively, public safety requires a medley of people for departmental makeup to mimic your demographic population and community representation.