The 'Brotherhood' of Law Enforcement

Sometimes I really love this job. It's been hotter than heck in Illinois, and we've been busy in my city. Last weekend while I was out on various scenes and crashes and crimes, I took the time to look around and just enjoy the sight of my fellow officers working together. I love the camaraderie, the teamwork, the success we enjoy. We laugh, we commiserate, we complain; sometimes we communicate so intensely with just a look, a gesture, no words necessary; we know exactly what the other is thinking. I've been going home at night completely exhausted, but with my sides aching from laughing so much, and feeling like a part of something terrific. I've been feeling good. Why? Because we're a "Brotherhood." We are brothers and sisters, part of a crazy, sometimes dysfunctional, a highly skilled and dedicated and family of people who are the last line of defense between the population we serve and total chaos. What could be better?

And yet when I talk about "the Brotherhood" of law enforcement, whether in the classroom or in print, I sometimes get dirty looks, even a few nasty e-mails. How can I, a woman in this profession for over 27 years, use such non-inclusive language? Are there sexist agencies, cops and administrators out there? Sure there are! In the early 1980s I was one of those "victims." I endured years of harassment from the command staff of an agency which wasn't ready to deal with women, just like hundreds of other police agencies around the country at that time. And even now, there are women who get treated badly, just for wanting to be good cops. A few weeks ago, a female Chicago officer was awarded significant damages for the harassment she endured for being the only female member of an all-male narcotics unit. (see link below) After all, women are still relatively new to this male-dominated profession. Years ago my agency (and many others, I'm sure) changed all of our general orders to language that was "gender-non-specific." In other words, all the "he's" and "he shall's" were changed to "he-and-or-she" and "the officer shall" and, well, you get the picture. I guess there was an assumption that all the women in the department were offended by the lack of gender neutrality in our G.O.s. In reality, most of us were just annoyed by all the new pages we had to put in our G.O. books, and the comments we had to endure at roll call by the guys who were similarly annoyed and thought we were the catalyst for the changes. However, I did appreciate the effort by my administration. The law enforcement profession is constantly evolving, and with evolution, there are changes and improvements and great things happening. But evolution is a slow process, and there are always anomalies, a few errors, and some mistakes.

Besides, sometimes bad things happen to good people; it's just a reality of our society, in fact, of life in general. Individuals who target and harass and mistreat other individuals should be punished. But I grow weary as I look at the training courses and workshops and organizations for female cops who do little but perpetuate the victim mentality that many women have--who blame policemen for all of "our" problems. Those are my brothers they are talking about. The ones who work hard with me, and make me laugh, and watch my back, and save my butt day after day. Even in the early 1980s, when my first sergeant told me "I don't believe in broads in police work," setting the tone for years to come, there were many men, good men; some in command positions and some just grunts like me, who were supportive and open-minded, who befriended and mentored young women like me. I believe those are the majority of men in law enforcement, those are our brothers, and I for one am proud to be their sister.

Forward this article to one crimefighter of the opposite gender and see what happens...