Skip to comments.Women Top Police Ranks in Several Cities
Posted on 05/28/2004 12:02:35 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
BOSTON - The new police chiefs in four of the nation's largest cities Boston, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Detroit share some similar credentials. All boast more than two decades of police experience. All have worked their way up the ranks. And all are women.
Some say it's just coincidence that four women within six months have been named to the top police position in four major cities, a natural evolution two decades after consent decrees and affirmative action cases forced departments to hire more women.
But others say a shifting paradigm in policing from an emphasis on a paramilitary structure to one more reliant on communication and community relations has contributed to the growing success of women in the field.
"When I first came on the police department, we were trained in a more paramilitary-type environment," said Kathleen O'Toole, 50, who was named Boston police commissioner in February. "We were trained as soldiers to go out and fight the war on crime, and it was the police versus the community."
"We came to realize in the mid- to late 80s that that model of policing was failing miserably," she said.
O'Toole joins Detroit Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, Milwaukee Chief Nan Hegerty and San Francisco Chief Heather Fong in a unique sorority. Fairfax County, Va., a community of about 1 million outside Washington, has a woman Suzanne Devlin as its acting chief.
For most of these women, being named to the top-cop job was not the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. In fact, as girls they did not see these jobs as even a possibility because women simply didn't hold those positions.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in this position," O'Toole said.
Women still make up an average of only 13 percent of police officers, according to the National Center for Women and Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation in Arlington, Va. Of the 18,000 police departments across the nation, approximately 200 have women chiefs yet only four of those are in 62 cities defined as "major" by the federal government.
"We're not talking a lot of progress here, just to put it in some perspective. But we are talking high visibility, and all eyes will be on them," said Margaret Moore, director of the national center, who retired as the highest ranking woman in the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, a former Boston police chief and longtime mentor of O'Toole, said the rising profile of the women is a natural evolution of policing. He said one of the reasons for the success of these four is that they have not tried to be known as one of the boys.
"I think every one of these women is seen as a woman," Bratton said. "They're proud of being a woman. They've not had to go out drinking and carousing with the guys. They've made it on their own."
That's not to say the establishment is now completely accepting of women on the force.
"Unfortunately there's still an element of macho there," said Bratton, whose department is 22 percent women. "Keep in mind, we're only into the second generation of women. We're still early in the evolution of that process."
Hegerty, the Milwaukee chief, said the men on the force do not respect women who try to be one of the guys.
"They understand that women officers are essential, but they really want you to be women," she said. "On the other hand, they don't want you to be afraid to mix it up when the situation calls for it."
Jim Kouri, vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, said he was not surprised to see women reaching the top in increasing numbers, since they've been working their way up for several decades. He also noted academy training is different now than it was 30 years ago.
"I hate to use the word softer, but it's less paramilitary," he said.
His organization does not keep figures broken down by agencies run by women. He said the group does plan to change its surveys to include questions about female officers; for example: how many per department, their ranks, how long it has taken them to reach that level.
Moore, of the women and policing center, said research indicates the support for community policing is stronger among women, who've traditionally shown better communication skills. Still, the paramilitary structure, which works well for critical incidents, continues to "hang on by their nails," she said, despite the arrival of high-profile female chiefs.
"Don't undervalue what women bring to policing," she said. "I wouldn't call it the feminization of policing, but a little gender balancing and critical mass could certainly change the way we do policing in this country."
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First of all, the "paramilitary" style reformed the corrupt LAPD when William H. Parker took over as chief in 1950 (by paramilitary I do not mean swat teams, forfeiture laws or other things some might object to here, but rather discipline, command structure, and esprit de corps). If fighting the war on crime was failing in the 1980's, why had it beens so successful for so many years prior to the 1960's and the explosion of violent crime?
Second, this quote from the article seems to imply that there is a difference between men and women, when the party line allows no such differences when they may work to the disadvantage of females- "But others say a shifting paradigm in policing from an emphasis on a paramilitary structure to one more reliant on communication and community relations has contributed to the growing success of women in the field. "
In closing, I think it is great what these women have achieved. I think some of the undercurrents of this piece, however, are not so great.
Guns Before Butter.
Here in Atlanta we had Beverly Harvard. As a key official in the corrupt administration of Mayor Bill Campbell, the lady wasn't well regarded in the police community -- or the civilian community, for that matter.
Guns Before Butter.
Maybe part of the "new paradigm" they're talking about are the recent changes allowing citizens to defend themselves.
Naw, you won't read about that!
(s)Bizare hoards of sexual fetishists are reported heading to these cites asking for "special" sovenier pictuers.(/s(
All have been promoted above top performing men with far more experience. All are affirmative action appointees.
Gee what does that do for retention of competent people. I predict in a few years these departments will be recipients of police abuse lawsuits and this fact shall be used against them. Police departments who hire and promote based on skin color and gender rather than merrit. A lawyer's dream argument for negligent hiring.
Owl_Eagle: Uh...not exactly.
Actually, it is a unique "sorority." Pressed for time and not wanting to bog down JimRob's servers with details that I felt were superflous, I left out several details from my previous account of my experience with "Heather" Fong ("SF Cops Caught Performing in Porn Video," Reply No. 31).
In one of his last letters to me, Harry proposed that I come back to San Francisco and meet him after what he dubbed "Operation Meat Grinder." I assumed he meant there was a large-scale anti-narcotics or anti-gang operation taking place and that he would be too busy to have out-of-town company. But, now, putting two-and-two together, it comes up five.
Harry often spoke of his friend Kenneth O'Toole of the Boston P.D., L. Billy Cummings up in Michigan, and Dan Hegerty in Wisconsin. They were all friends from their days together at a Turkish prep school when their fathers were working overseas. They got together once or twice a year for hunting and fishing trips. The first time Harry did this while I was teamed up with him in the Mission Hills district, I asked him if he did a lot of horseback riding while he was hunting, because of the way he was walking bow-legged. He laughed and said, "Well, I guess you could say I rode bareback," and left it at that.
In my previous account I mentioned a letter he wrote to me in which he questioned if he would be happier in interior design that on the SFPD, but in order to respect his privacy and what else he told me, I left out the following passage, which I am only including now because of the nefarious means by which Harry and his friends are spreading their sordid philosophy:
"You know Henry, maybe interior design is the life for me, but I'm also thinking that maybe Ken, Billy, Dan, and I should all get our d***s cut off and take over large police departments and keep the other cops off of our friends' backs (or maybe try to help get them on their backs, know what I mean, kid?). When we're running the show in Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, and S.F., that'll make the Stonewall thing look like small change! We'll have a bath house in every city building..."
So, you can see now what I mean by this being a "unique sorority." We can write off San Francisco and Boston - they're lost. But we've got to save Milwaukee - think of the beer that's at stake!!!
Henry Lee II
"Leftists are crazed and violent people,
With the blood of millions on their hands.
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