Article by Arlether Wilson
I have been a police officer for more than fifteen years. Therefore, I have seen my fair share of the good and the bad. Like any profession, there are some problems but I have had a fulfilling career. Unfortunately, it has not been as easy for some of my female counterparts. Consequently, as a mother, a women and mentor I believe it is imperative that I discuss the advances we have made in Law enforcement, as well as the disparities.
For the past four decades women have continued to make strides in law enforcement. After much debate and legal mandates things have improved and more women have been hired. In spite of this, women represent less than fourteen percent of police forces nationwide. Furthermore, some agencies still utilize out dated and unfair hiring practices, which discourages more women from entering the profession.
Police administrators and the media often brag about how much progress we have made since the Civil Rights Movement. However, some women law enforcement officers are still subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sometimes peer intimidation. Surprisingly, these are things that are rarely discussed in the media. It’s a known fact that women and men are different. They have different physical structures and thought processes, yet it seems police administrators have yet to acknowledge those facts. Like their male counterparts, women are expected to perform the same physical and intellectual tasks. When women fail to meet the department’s standards, little is done to encourage or assist them in their endeavors. As a result, some women give up and the recruitment remains low.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “if a woman wants to do a man’s job she should be expected to perform the same task.” Unfortunately, those same tasks don’t usually come with the same salary or career advancement. Women’s Rights organizations have been fighting to change this thought process and we’ve made some progress. However, we still have a ways to go.To end on a positive note, a career in law enforcement can be challenging but rewarding. As we speak, legislation, policies and procedures are being revised to encourage more women to apply.
In a practical world, none of these issues would exist, but they do. Let’s be realistic, we live in a society that is constantly evolving. Some changes may take longer but we must continue to fight for what is rightfully ours. We have to fight for the implement of new legislation that will ensure some autonomy within the profession.
I will talk more about this later. For information about becoming a police officer check with your local, state and federal police agencies. Each branch and state usually has different requirements. There are also opportunities to volunteer, so check it out.
About the Author
No one challenges traditional roles and stereotypes more than Arlether Wilson. After spending more than ten years in foster care she moved back to Fifth Ward, a poverty stricken community in Houston, Texas where no one was expected to excel. While her life story is similar to many African American women, it is surprisingly distinctive. Arlether has always been an achiever and attributes her drive, determination and
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