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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Says Hiring More Female Cops Would Prevent Shootings Like Laquan's

By Kate Shepherd in News on Dec 2, 2015 10:49PM


Would adding more female police officers prevent shootings like Laquan McDonald's? That's what NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the son and grandson of cops, argues in his latest column for Time.

The public's confidence in police is at a 22-year low, according to a Gallup poll cited by Abdul-Jabbar. Only 25% of respondents in 2015 have a "great deal" of respect for police, down from 77% in 1967.

Americans aren't necessarily anti-police but recent incidents have shake our confidence in the force that's supposed to protect us, he writes:

Americans recognize that being a police officer is dangerous and requires courage and making split-second decisions under pressure. Sometimes officers will make mistakes that have tragic results, through no fault of their own. Because of that, we are willing to forgive well-meaning errors. But the escalating level of unnecessary and excessive violence, particularly against the poor and minorities, has shaken our confidence.

Something needs to change and studies show that female police officers are less violent and seen as more trustworthy.

"In fact, I can't help but wonder how many of the 2,813 people killed by police since May 1, 2013, might be alive today if the call had been answered by a female cop," he wrote.

A study in 1988 concluded that, "Policemen see police work as involving control through authority, while policewomen see it as public service."

Settlements for excessive force and police brutality lawsuits are costing major cities hundreds of millions of dollars. Chicago has paid nearly half a billion in CPD settlements over the last 10 years. Hiring more women might decrease these costs:

A 2002 study of excessive force complaints in seven major cities concluded that male officers were 8.5 times more likely than women officers to sustain an allegation of excessive force, and 3 times more likely to be named in a complaint of excessive force.

Unfortunately there are enough female officers in America. They made up 12% of local police departments in 2007, the most recent statistics available. CPD is above the national average in hiring women, according to the statistics he cited.

It's an interesting argument and we're glad that Abdul-Jabbar is making it. Hopefully some police departments are willing to test his theory.