In 2007 I authored an article for Officer.Com titled The Brotherhood of Law Enforcement (linked below). I wrote it after one of those crazy weekends on patrol that we all live for. Lots of fast driving, foot pursuits and total chaos; it was my team's favorite way to make those 12 hour shifts fly by. I originally wrote it under a pseudonym Tami Jones, because I wasn't sure how my department would react, but what the heck, I'm retired now! Ironically, I received great email feedback about that article, and I encouraged readers to forward it on to a fellow brother or sister, which many did.
The basic premise of the article was that while there are some jerks in this profession, most of the time we all get along pretty well, just like any big, slightly dysfunctional but good-hearted family. Three years and an awful lot of research later, I continue to emphasize The Brotherhood in my female officer classes. The reaction is gratifying to say the least, women cops really do like and appreciate most of the guys they work with. But I want to encourage women to really take the time to study and get to know their male counterparts and what makes then tick.
The Male Brain
Dr. Louann Brizendine wrote a best seller in 2006 titled The Female Brain. It is still one of my favorite go-to research manuals, and besides, it's just a fun book to read as a parent, partner, co-worker, or supervisor. In 2010 she published a follow up book, The Male Brain. The pre-publication reviews of the book stated that compared to women, men are basically a "stripped down, reproductive, problem-solving machine." (my teaching partner and husband, Dave Smith, takes great pride in this gender description)
Dr. Brizendine is a wife, the mother of a son, and a scientist and practitioner. Like me, she loves, works with, admires and studies men as well as women. For example, as Dr. Brizendine states that men like to solve problems, and if we don't give them the opportunity to do so, they may feel like a failure. As females in a male-dominated profession, we are obligated to understand how men think, and more importantly, if we are trainers, supervisors or managers of men, we need to learn what we can do to help make them better, safer cops. Learn about the brain function differences between men and women and apply them to your work life. View those guys you work with as science projects, and see if you can figure them out. If nothing else, it will make your shift go faster.
Appreciate The Guys; Don't Try to Be One.
I know so many women cops who say I am just one of the guys. I don't know how to tell you gals this, but, um, well, you're not. I don't care how macho you look or act (trust me, I used to have shorter hair and I still have a deeper voice than most men, and my language would make most guys under thirty blush profusely; I understand macho) you can't pretend you're just like a man, nor should you.
As I've talked about before (and will no doubt talk about in the future) men and women have different brains, bodies, and other physiological and psychological differences that affect the way we perform police work. We've also been socialized differently. In the 1970s, when women first began to infiltrate the ranks of regular patrol work, one of the big concerns was the chivalry factor. In other words, were men so ingrained to be polite to and protective of women that they would waste time or even get injured trying to be chivalrous toward their new female partners? After a few decades of ironing out the kinks, it turns out that we all work pretty well together, but I still see women who get offended when a fellow (male) cop tries to be helpful, and I still see men who struggle with should-I-open-the-door-for-her-or-not on the job. Don't over-think this stuff. Be polite and professional towards each other; don't get caught up in gender roles and don’t try to be someone you aren't. All women are not alike and neither are all men, but each sex has inherent differences that should be appreciated and utilized to benefit the agency and the community.