Are Female Cops the Answer We're Looking For?

Aug 5, 2020

Tori Crowley (L) and Cassie Thompson don't believe women are better or worse than men in policing. But they do believe that women have some skills that all officers could learn from.
Credit Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Right now, around the country, communities are asking hard questions about the role of police – does policing need an overhaul? How can officers better serve communities? And how can departments ratchet down tensions that can lead to aggression by and against police officers?

Well before the flashpoint that was the George Floyd incident, scholars and social reformers were posing an answer to questions like these: female officers.

In the ocean of academic research into police misconduct and aggression, a common finding is that female police officers are much less likely to be at the center of trouble on the job.

“There is quite a bit of research that female officers receive fewer complaints than male officers,” says Robert Kaminski, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina who recently completed a study into use of force by female officers. “They’re less likely to draw their firearm. They’re more likely to try to diffuse a situation than, especially young, male cops.”

So what do female officers bring to the job that their male counterparts could benefit from learning?

Listen to the story to hear from women in uniform around South Carolina. But keep a couple things in mind – female officers want to be seen as police officers, not female officers; and don’t let that simplistic question above lead you to simplistic conclusions.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate Multimedia Reporter for South Carolina Public Radio. Follow Scott on Twitter @ByScottMorgan