MayJune Associate Magazine.2018.FINAL

M AY 2 0 1 8 J U N E

Women in Law Enforcement continued from page 9

It is also explains the likelihood of women to handle investigations related to domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault with a softer approach which tends to be better received by victims. THE TWEAK Law enforcement agencies need to recognize this “tend and befriend” ap- proach in policing as a common go-to for females. Obviously, a female must rec- ognize when she needs to engage in physical force, to protect her life, her partner’s and the community she serves. There is no argument that all officers, men and women, must be physically fit and meet all physical training requirements in or- der to do their job safely. This is not a justification to alter physical requirements for females in law enforcement. It is a call to action for law enforcement agencies to acknowledge and incorporate the biological differences of men and women in the field and the benefits these differences bring to modern day policing. Unfortunately, there are times when a male partner may question the decision of his female counterpart due to lack of understanding of the dif- ferent thought processes. It is commonplace for females in law enforcement to try to measure up to their male counterpart within a historically male dominated society. Some women may question their own decisions and place a great deal of stress on themselves in order to fit into this society, which only compounds the daily stress of policing. Law enforcement agencies should include basic training on the ap- plicable biological differences and policing methods of men and women. Even the slightest awareness of these differences would help create a more effective workforce. Officers spend a great deal of time getting to know the mindset of criminals to be more effective in the field. It is only logical that officers should understand each other and recognize different perspectives in order to achieve this same level of efficacy as well as increased officer safety. Supervisors should also recognize these differences and conduct de- briefings of critical events accordingly. For example, a female officer with small children may deal with a radio call of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome very differently than a young male with no children. Training and extended counseling should be made available to all officers who may continue to struggle with inadequacies or work-related stress and it is important any follow-up addresses these obvious differences. As more agencies recognize and give voice to these differences, and pro- mote them as strengths rather than weaknesses, many of the preconceived notions of policing will disappear. An agency which creates an internal envi- ronment of awareness, diversity and support is far more attractive to a female officer, where she feels her skillset is acknowledged and appreciated. PHYSICAL WELLNESS Studies have shown that chronic stress may take a greater toll on the physical health of women compared to men. As noted earlier, the human body produces cortisol which is a positive thing for additional energy when engaged in fight or flight situations. However, that same cortisone release may have a negative impact on other parts of the body and more so on women and their hormonal system. Some of these long-term health prob- lems include reduced sex drive, irregular menstrual cycles, acne breakouts, hair loss, poor digestion, depression, insomnia, weight gain, decreased fer- tility and increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The APA study confirmed men are far more likely than women to deal with stress by playing sports or engaging in some sort of physical activity (16% vs 4%). Most women opted for more sedentary activities like reading or spending time with a friend. Conversely, women are more likely to eat as a way of managing stress (31% vs 21%) and many admitted to overeating and eating unhealthy foods. As a result, women are more likely to be overweight,

These APA findings are also supported by the science of hormones. Men are more likely to respond to stress by producing adrenaline and cor- tisol which can create the flight or fight response, which is a well-known concept in law enforcement. Women also produce adrenaline and cortisol in moments of stress, but they also produce oxytocin, a chemical that can produce bonding and affection for others. As noted in a Healthgrade article by Lorna Collier , “women are more apt to react to stress with a ‘tend and befriend’ response, seeking to protect others in their lives and reaching out for social connection and support.” This response is most likely the reason why women officers are less apt to use force than their male counterpart.

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