The entrance of the women in the police force coincided with growing public interest in crime prevention which was on the increase (Feinman, 1994). There were increased cases of crimes committed by women offenders and women policemen were better equipped than policemen to handle such cases. They were well equipped in fulfilling the protective and investigative roles needed in such cases. The very first policewomen took the role of protecting and preventing crimes related to women and children. In dealing with juvenile cases policewomen proved more suitable in handling such cases.
Mary Hamilton, who was among pioneer policewomen in the United States, summed the role of women in the police force. Despite the conviction that they would perform just as good as the men, pioneer policewomen were wise enough not to initiate the equality debate in the force. Instead, they chose to argue that some roles in the police force were better suited for them. This tactic won them support not only from the public who felt that women handled women criminals better, but also the policemen who abhorred investigating crimes such as rape.
Even when they were incorporated in the police force, women never claimed same goals or duties as their male colleagues and neither did they compete against the men. Instead, they concentrated on the tasks that complemented their natural abilities most. This resulted in positive attitude change about women joining the police force. Perhaps the most formidable strength of women, not only in the police force, but in the entire criminal justice system is their inner strengths, which gives them the determination to press on despite the society gender stereotype.
There is no gender equality in law enforcement institutions. However, there are initiatives in place aimed at encouraging more women to seek recruitment in the law enforcement institutions (Unifem. org, 2008). It is a common belief among women organizations promoting women participation in decision making structures in the law enforcement institutions, that the involvement of women in leadership positions will improve accountability and transparency in the handling of crimes.
Strengths of women in the police force have been noticed by international organizations like UNDP who recommend that more women be recruited to join different police forces globally, since they are better at interviewing witnesses and victims and are better in handling gender based crimes. UNDP states that police women on patrol are more likely to be approached by women or minority groups with crime-related information (Alvarez & Treiber, 2007).
Overall, the inclusion of women in the police force and the apparent strengths that such women possess is clear testimony that women have to create a less threatening environment in the police force, while proving that security is no longer a man’s work. During the eulogy of Irma Lozada, who was the first policewoman to be killed while on duty, the Head of Police at that time eulogized her as follows, “She was one of the guys in her work … the fact that she was a woman did not deter her, because she did the job of a cop. . .
Some people are reluctant to work with females. Not with her. . . . She was respected as a police officer…” Perhaps the ultimate proof that women have strengths and capabilities that are just as good or even better than their male colleagues is the past research conducted in 1974, 1975, 1985, and 1987. These researches covered policewomen on patrol work and gauged citizen satisfaction. The researches also evaluated the physical capabilities of policewomen and their ability to handle, violent confrontations (Price, 1996).