Within the modern society, women are finding themselves entering many areas of employment that were previously exclusive to men, and law enforcement is no exception. The reasons for this, as well as the obstacles they have faced as a result of choosing this career path, are quite interesting. Women cite a variety of reasons for entering law enforcement, from the ability to earn comparable salaries to men, to the wish to contribute to their communities and beyond (Schulz, 2004).
While women have been able to enter law enforcement, this has not come without its share of difficulties. First, the issue of discrimination and sexual harassment is prominent; women have found themselves over the years subject to separate hiring practices than their male counterparts, lower wages, and the obvious sexual problems that exist within the male/female workplace dynamic when the general atmosphere of the workplace is mostly male (Shusta et al., 2004) .
Also, the issue of the “glass ceiling” or as it is often called in law enforcement the “brass ceiling” exists; in many situations, women in law enforcement, regardless of their qualifications and desire to advance, have been relegated to mostly administrative tasks rather than “hands on” enforcement tasks, and find themselves slower to gain higher rank than the male counterparts (Shusta et al. , 2004).
Related to the “brass ceiling” is the phenomenon of “the brotherhood”, an alliance of men within law enforcement which, among other things, regularly feeds the bias against women within the ranks. What all of these factors create, ultimately, is a double-standard, whereby men operate with a different set of rules than women, but this is not absolute. Support systems for women in law enforcement are becoming more prominent as the role of women in law enforcement becomes more significant. Cultural Awareness Training Programs in Law Enforcement
Contrary to popular belief, discrimination in law enforcement still is alive in well, whether one is considering small, rural law enforcement agencies or those in the largest cities; for example, an account of the New York Police Department from the 1980s tells of a black policeman, new on the job, who was deprived of the proper uniform, sleeping quarters, and the like (Shusta et al. , 2004). In an attempt to counter this type of prejudice from within, cultural awareness training in law enforcement has emerged in recent years.
The need for cultural awareness training has arisen, in addition to the obvious bias that must be defeated, in large part due to the diversity that has increased in law enforcement since the 1960s, not only from a racial standpoint, but also due to ethnic differences, gender issues, and sexual preference situations (Sklansky, 2006). The increased diversity of course feeds the increased discrimination, and on and on, making the need for cultural awareness training all that more vital.
A key component of successful cultural awareness training has been the education of those with biases to the benefits that diverse groups bring to the success of law enforcement overall (Meese, 1996). For example, a Hispanic law enforcement officer brings with him or her unique insight and access to that culture, which has the potential to greatly improve the likelihood of apprehending fugitives, gathering information, and the like.
Additionally, female law enforcement personnel typically can put a female victim more at ease and can handle female prisoners with a lower likelihood of accusations of misconduct that typically come from a male law enforcement officer and a female prisoner. Insights Gained from the First Five Units about Improving Communications as a Peace Officer with Minority Citizens The first five units of the course text have provided me with several important insights about improving communications as a peace officer with minority citizens.
First, and possibly most importantly, the text has shown me that I must first deal with my own biases and prejudices, not only from the viewpoint of dealing with my colleagues in law enforcement, but also in terms of dealing with the citizens. By setting an example of excellent communications with all of the minorities with whom I come into contact, the entire law enforcement system, as well as myself personally, will reap tremendous benefits.
Taking this conversion into the communities that I will serve in a law enforcement capacity, better communications, grounded in respect for minorities, will allow for not only a more efficient performance as a law enforcement officer, but will also be less likely to ignite additional conflicts within the community as opposed to an officer who incites conflict among minority citizens due to their own biases and flaws. Something also needs to be said at this point in regard to setting an example, and once again, leading by example.
Whether citizens look up to law enforcement officers as the epitome of good behavior and an unprejudiced view of the public, or if the citizens see law enforcement officers as the worst in society, the law enforcement officer must continue to strive to set the example as one who has the maturity and intelligence to rise above petty differences and preconceived notions in the promotion of the common good.
Meese, E. , & Dehart, R. (1996). How Washington Subverts Your Local Sheriff. Policy Review, (75), 48+. Schulz, D. M. (2004). Breaking the Brass Ceiling: Women Police Chiefs and Their Paths to the Top. Westport, CT: Praeger. Shusta, R. , Levine, D. , Wong, H. , & Harris, P. (2004). Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society (3rd ed. ). New York: Prentice Hall. Sklansky, D. A. (2006). Not Your Father’s Police Department: Making Sense of the New Demographics of Law Enforcement. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 96(3), 1209+.