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A lot of criticism was heard regarding the fact that a female deputy was escorting such a big, dangerous man. There's little doubt that a male deputy the
same age and size as the female deputy would have fared any better. Nichols' subsequent violence showed he had a plan indicating to some that even a
male deputy equal in size and strength wouldn't have changed anything. But...by crediting him with a plan, one must assume he gave considerable
thought to the certainty that he could disarm the deputy. If the deputy had been equal in size and strength, one must wonder if Nichols would have
delayed his plan; until, a target of more certainty presented itself.
One needs to understand how men think:
When I was a brand new police officer, I worked with an officer who was amazing when it came to use of force. He was only of medium height, but he
was all muscle. He never looked that big, because his uniform never fit that well. His winter coat sort of just hung on him making him look somewhat
On a number of occasions, he and I confronted suspects who were definite candidates for use of force. I was considerably taller, and in every instance,
these bad guys focused on my shorter partner.
Not one of those guys ever got past the first offensive gesture, because that first move was always met with one devastating knock out punch. The
officer could take a punch as well. As we placed one of the officer's semi-conscious would be sparring partners into the paddy wagon, the suspect kicked
the officer squarely on his chin. He stumbled back a couple of steps, shook his head, and he went back to subduing the suspect.
I've talked a lot about the man's psychological edge, but there are so many other factors when a man contemplates resisting any police officer's use of
force against him. Any man, aside from a true mental case, always considers the possibility, or to some the certainty, of retribution:
I was still really new when I became involved in a particularly violent altercation with a suspect my size. I was very relieved when I heard radios and saw
hands reaching down to separate us.
After I checked by torn uniform, counted by various bumps and bruises, and generally put myself back together, I walked over to where the suspect had
been placed inside the wagon. I noticed the suspect had a laceration to his lip which I did not recall seeing when I was pulled off of him. I also noticed a
line of police officers trying to get past the wagon man and into the back of the wagon.
The wagon man was one of the old guys, and he was having none of it. The sergeant soon arrived, and the wagon man had his ear. I then saw the
sergeant grab on to an officer who was even newer than I and put him inside the wagon with the prisoner for the ride to the station.
While retribution does not occur with the regularity as it once did, bad guys still believe it does. Police departments are constantly in the process of
projecting a kinder, gentler image, but let's hope the bad guys never buy into that image.
In my book, and on this site, I talk a lot about self-sufficiency. However, use of force is one area where no police officer can succeed in achieving total
self-sufficiency. Police officers quickly learn that their safety, and indeed their very survival, depends on their fellow police officers.
Feminists and others are very disappointed that women don't comprise a larger percentage of police departments. Whatever the reasons, it's no
coincidence that height and proportionate weight requirements for police officers were abandoned at the same time women entered police work as police
officers. While your height and weight won't be discriminating factors against your employment as a police officer, you should make a personal and
honest assessment of your physical abilities to exert force and defend yourself.
physical confrontation proves or disproves this belief is irrelevant since it remains a psychological advantage for a bad man, and a psychological
disadvantage for a female police officer.
In 2005, the rate of assaults on police officers was 11.9 per 100 sworn officers - breakdown by sex is not available. In 2005, fifty-five police officers were
feloniously killed in the line of duty. Of those 55 killed, only one was a female police officer. From 1996 to 2005, 575 police officers were feloniously
killed. Of that number, 29 were female.
I looked at the total number of assaults reported for 2005. The law enforcement agencies that reported assault data to the FBI employed 485,048 sworn
officers. Depending on where you look, females comprise 10 to 14 percent of the nation's police officers. Let's spilt the difference at 12%. Now we have
58,206 female officers and 426,842 male officers Since information on male/female police officer assaults is not available, it's impossible to know if
female officers are assaulted at a greater or lesser rate than male officers.
So...we're pretty much left with beliefs and perceptions when it comes to your ability as a female police officer to exert force against a group which will
be predominantly male. However, the only belief that matters is your belief in your ability to exert force just a effectively as most men. You'll soon
learn that few male police officers can get handcuffs on another man who doesn't want to be cuffed when it's a one on one use of force.
There's no question that physical size has a lot to do with any police officer's ability to exert force or effectively defend oneself whether the officer is
male or female:
On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols, 33, was being escorted by a 51 year old female sheriff's deputy to his rape trial inside an Atlanta Courthouse. Nichols
disarmed and seriously injured the deputy, who was half his size, before entering the courtroom and shooting the judge and court reporter to death with
the deputy's gun. He would murder another sheriff's deputy on his escape from the courthouse as well as an off duty federal agent, at the agent's home,
as he eluded capture.
Here's the good news...as a female police officer, you can get away with a lot more when it comes to the use of force than
male police officers. I'm not talking about indiscriminate use of deadly force or anything that is obviously excessive force.
But...obvious is the key word. To a whole lot of people, any use of force by a police officer is obvious excessive force. To
a whole lot of other people, any force used by a female police officer against a male suspect is reasonable and justified
even if the justification needs to be stretched a bit.
The feminists spend a lot of time complaining about how female police officers are viewed and treated differently from
male police officers. However, the feminist view is always selective, and it always dwells on negative, or perceived
negative, treatment of female police officers by their male coworkers and supervisors. When it comes to the very
serious question of force, the feminist view would have you believe that, as a female police officer, you'll rarely find the
need to use any kind of force since your conflict resolution skills are far superior to those of men. This is the view most
often cited to confront any criticism regarding a woman's ability to physically confront and subdue male suspects.
Let's put aside all the back and forth by people who simply have no idea what use of force is all about. Whether you're
female or male, you should always view any level of force as a last resort. The improvement of your ability to calmly,
rationally, and effectively communicate with people under stressful circumstances should be a goal pursued continuously
throughout your career. Never the less, you must realize that your use of force is inevitable. The number of times you
use force will be dictated only by the amount of time you remain in a position where your duties are enforcement
As a young woman contemplating a police career, you might feel that the women who pioneered entry into police
departments before you were born made the way smoother for you. As a man who got to see women in police work from
the beginning to the present, I see something just the opposite. When women first entered police departments to
perform the same duties as men, those women didn't have the word "VICTIM" stamped across their foreheads. Can
anyone seriously argue that, in today's society, women are not continually portrayed as victims, for any number of
physical outrages, at the hands of men? Factual or not, this societal image of women does not benefit a female police
Here's the bad news. All men, barring those with significant physical disability, believe they're physically superior to any
woman when it comes to the question of which can physically subdue the other. Whether the outcome of a particular