Though women constitute only 12.7% of the sworn police force they are implicated in only 5% of the total cases registered against the use of excessive force. Statistics further indicate that women officers account for only 6% of the total dollars paid out for court settlements for The Use of Police Force 4
police abuse related cases. [DR. Kim Lonsway, 2002] It is clear that a women police officer is less likely to resort to excessive force use compared with a male police officer and this presents a clear case for more representation of women in the police force. Inducting more women would therefore be a positive step.
Another study by the University of California compared the effects of race, gender, and experience of the officer and the link to the possibility of the officer being investigated by Internal affairs for the use of excessive force. For the study, the researchers obtained data pertaining to officers working in the Riverside County Sheriff's office between 1996 and 2000. It was found that officers with less than 5 years of experience were 4.4 times more likely to be subjected to investigation by internal affairs compared to those who had more than 20 years of experience. [McElvain & Kposowa, 2004] Another study by Anthony et.al (2005) surveyed 3,230 police personnel and gathered data pertaining to 'force violation', 'reporting misconduct' and 'adherence to discipline'. Analyses of the data revealed that new recruits and experienced officers were more serious about the use of excessive force and showed increased willingness to disclose such misbehavior compared to those with moderate levels of experience. [Anthony et.al, 2005]
Proper Implementation of EWS
In view of the growing number of civil complaints against police misbehavior, the civil rights commission recommended the institution of 'Early Warning Systems' to identify and correct defective traits among the police personnel. By 1997, almost 27% of the national police agencies were running some kind of EWS. [Frank Hughes, 2007] In the state of Iowa, the Chief of police issued a directive for the implementation of a 'Personnel Early Warning System' to identify any major events in the life of the police personnel and provide appropriate stress management and counseling service. Under this new system, every officer is monitored for his performance and when there is an increase in the frequency of incidents he is referred for a PEWS review. [IOWA State Police, 2004] This helps identify the problem early and prevent further violence. Such a proactive approach is critical to controlling the problem of excessive force use among police.
Police personnel are entrusted with the duty of ensuring peace and stability to the State. To diffuse tense situations, to catch criminals, to protect the public and to protect themselves the police are endowed with power to use force. However, with power also comes the responsibility for discharging duty with integrity. As with police corruption, Police power abuse is a pressing problem that requires our urgent attention. Though it is necessary for police to use force when it is situationally justified, many a times we see willful violation of human rights and excessive use of lethal force and intimidation. To The Use of Police Force 5
prevent such inappropriate behavior it is essential to properly train, monitor and carefully review the performance of the police force on a regular basis. A proactive approach such as the implementation of the 'Personnel Early Warning System' is the key in early detection and prevention of police abuse. To conclude we might say that force when used in appropriate measure helps enforce law and order while its misuse erodes the basic pillar of our Law Enforcement system.
1) Amnesty International, (2008) ' Less than Lethal'? The use of Stun weapons in U.S. Law Enforcement', Accessed 14th July 2009, Available at, http://www.amnestyusa.org/uploads/LessThanLethal.pdf
2) Anthony J. Micucci & Ian M. Gomme (Oct 2005), 'American Police and Subcultural Support for the use of Excessive Force', Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol 33, Issue 5
3) BJS, (June 25, 2006) 'Citizens Complained more than 26,000 times in 2002 about Excessive Police Force', Available at, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/ccpufpr.htm
4) DR. Kim Lonsway, Michelle Wood & Megan Fickling et.al (2002), ' Men, Women and Police Excessive Force: A Tale of two Genders', Accessed July 13th 2009, Available at, http://www.womenandpolicing.org/PDF/2002_Excessive_Force.pdf
5) Frank Hughes & Lisa B. Andre, (Oct 2007), 'Problem Officer Variables and Early Warning Systems', The Police Chief Vol 74
6) Human Rights Watch, 'Raising Police Violence Goes Unpunished', Accessed July 14th 2009, Available at, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/05/turkey-rising-police-violence-goes-unpunished
7) HR Huston, D Anglin & P. Rice et.al (2009), 'Excessive Use of Force by Police:
A survey of Academic Emergency Physicians', Emergency Medicine Journal 2009;26:20-22
8) IOWA City Police, (2004) 'Personnel Early Warning System', Accessed July 13th 2009, Available at, http://www.icgov.org/site/CMSv2/File/police/generalOrders/genorder49.pdf
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9) John Hoberman Ph.D., (May 2005), 'Dopers in Uniform: Cops on Steroids', Accessed July 15th 2009, Available online at, http://mesomorphosis.com/articles/hoberman/cops-on-steroids.htm
10) Kim R. Humphrey & Kathleen P. Decker Md. Et.al ( June 2008), 'Anabolic Steroid Use and Abuse by Police Officers: Policy and Prevention', The Police Chief, Vol LXXV No 6.
11) McElvain and Kposowa et.al, (2004), 'Police Officer Characteristics and Internal Affairs Investigations for Use of Force Allegations," Journal of Criminal Justice 32, no. 3 (2004): 265 -- 279.