I was indifferent to female cop partners. The same went for race. As far as I was concerned, we all wore “blue.” My memory of three decades in law enforcement, recalls more comfort working with females. As a caveat to this conversation, I never once dated a co-worker. I witnessed a great deal of “drama” when partners dated, and I wanted to avoid the conflict.
I recently spoke with a retired female detective supervisor. We had a discussion on the proficiency of female cops and my preference. As she said, despite the obvious positive attributes, she was of the opinion that many females felt they had to work harder for acceptance by their male counterparts. In a male dominated field, in which females comprise only 12% of the law enforcement community, I would not argue with that observation. They are in the minority and I could not begin to imagine the intimidation factor to “prove” your competency on a daily basis.
Along the lines of observational techniques, the females were the protector of the family. They had to rely upon their observation skills for survival. Men are physically stronger and were the hunters in the tribal days. Men relied upon endurance and strength for survival. Sometimes, testosterone has its limits and can add to a masculinity contest. My muscles are bigger and I can talk louder than you can.
According to Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor and her colleagues at UCLA, the introduction of stress stimuli to a female, can evoke a behavioral response called “tend and befriend.” After reviewing studies conducted over the past 30 years, the study concluded that females’ physical aggression and fear related behaviors are less intense and more “cerebral.” Despite males and females sharing the same limbic response for fight, freeze, or flight, females will rely less upon this response than their male counterparts.
Hang with me, as I will discuss some wonky science concepts going forward. Using FMRI scans of the brain, generalizations were concluded based upon these scans in response to stimuli. Each of these results can be argued with contradictory findings. As such, I would look at these as generalizations and not hard and fast rules.
Women have higher communication skills and as such, they were often able to diffuse volatile situations using empathy and communication. Due to their higher verbal skills and patience, I found females were more accomplished interviewers. Their softer approach was more appealing to obtain necessary information not just from suspects, but witnesses traumatized by crime. Due to higher empathy, they are more capable to read emotions and identify nonverbal behaviors leading to a physical confrontation. I was always a big believer in talking my way out of trouble as opposed to fighting. My face may not have been pretty, but it was all I had. Physical confrontations usually led to a trip to emergency room for the suspect or officer and a lot of paper work.
Studies have concluded that females have four times as many brain cells connecting the right and left side of their brain. Men on the other hand are left-brain dominant and as a result, solve one problem one-step at a time. Women are more efficient accessing both sides of their brain. Therefore, women tend to be more successful in approaching multiple problems, while also facing a multiple stimulated environment. This translates to managing chaos. Look at any multi-tasking working mother.
Dr. Peter McLeod, Oxford University professor, studied the boys and girls behavior of successfully completing a hedge maze. This was a small sample group. Boys were more likely to successfully complete the maze, due to their spatial competence and “big picture” recognition. This is due to a larger right brain cortex. Due to a higher degree of verbal reasoning in the left-brain and interconnectivity between the two sides of the brain, the girls relied more on individual details for charting their navigation. In this exercise, boys were able to complete the maze with more efficiency. Perhaps this is why men are more reluctant to stop for directions, but in police work, as independent determination can be useful, it is also vitally important to rely on teamwork.
In watching the Sherlock Holmes CBS show Elementary, Dr. Joan Watson is quite adept at the deductive powers obtained from observation. Despite her being the understudy of Sherlock, science backs up the observational abilities of the female gender. Women are more likely to spot which of a group of objects has been moved to a new position (the spot the difference task).
Women are said to be better at distinguishing between the fleeting expressions that cross our faces every day. According to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University, this is because empathy comes naturally to women, while men are wired to understand how things work. On average, women are better empathizers. They possess a higher degree of accurately guessing other people’s emotions and responding appropriately. They would be more likely to comfort you in a time of crisis.
On the wall of the Law Enforcement Memorial, there are 257 female law enforcement officers, who have lost their lives protecting society. I once had a supervisor tell me when considering the proficiency of an officer – would you want them behind you going through a door, or if you were a victim of a homicide, would you want them leading the investigation to bring your killer to justice. I never questioned the female cop’s ability.
Therefore, I wanted to thank Patti, Lonetta, Mary (times 2), Christina, Erin and all the other female and male officers for watching my back and keeping me safe.
I modeled my fictitious character, Detective Kate Alexander as an amalgam of the females that I had the privilege to work with. http://www.amazon.com/The-Blue-Monster-ebook/dp/B0054H8TMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1312641741&sr=1-1
To find out more about observation and nonverbal behavior, take a look at Face 2 Face- Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide: http://www.amazon.com/Face-2-ebook/dp/B009991BII/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354630000&sr=1-6