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Gender and Policing: Do Women Accept Legal Restrictions More Than Their Male Counterparts?

NCJ Number
Women & Criminal Justice Volume: 18 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2006 Pages: 49-78
John A. Eterno
Date Published
30 pages
This research studied similarities and differences between male and female officers’ legal behaviors.
The results of the study showed that when male and female officers were compared, there were both similarities and differences in their behaviors; the differences depended on the type of situation to which officers were responding. Many police departments throughout the world have emulated the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Compstat model of policing, instituted in 1994. The Compstat model is an aggressive crime-fighting model that stresses the traditional masculine aspects of policing, namely arrests and summonses. Community policing is the contrasting model that stresses utilizing other city services, and making close contacts with community members to tackle root causes of crime. Compstat returns policing to a male dominated model of crime fighting and law enforcement, rather than the community policing focus of problem solving and service. The research used the factorial survey method on 1,259 New York City police officers (234 female officers) to study and compare male/female police officers’ attitudes and legal behaviors. In drug situations, both women and men used legal criteria equally to determine whether a search should be executed. In weapons situations, women were more likely to follow legal restrictions even though men were somewhat influenced by them as well. Additionally, only men were influenced by a predisposed attitude of selectiveness in the weapon situation. Research showed no difference between men and women officers in aggression. However, research suggested that men who were more interested in serious violations (more selective) executed searches more often in a weapons situation. Women officers were not significantly influenced by this attitude, but tended to be more influenced by legal criteria in the weapons situation compared to men. Tables, references, appendix