By Walter Williams: Syndicated Columnist
Police departments must use race and sex preferences in hiring as a result of federal court consent decrees and political pressures. To meet these demands, many police departments have lowered, and in some cases eliminated, established standards for personal character and intellectual and physical capacity.
Jan Golab writes about this in “How Racial P.C. Corrupted the LAPD” in the May 2005 issue of The American Enterprise. While most of Golab’s article chronicles how Los Angeles damaged its police force in its quest for “diversity,” where it’s had to fire 100 police officers, identical damage has occurred in other cities. Washington, D.C., had to indict or fire 250 cops; New Orleans indicted more than 100. In these cities, policemen have been charged with crimes ranging from murder and rape to robbing drug dealers and selling confiscated drugs.
Most police officers are honest, dedicated and hard-working people who put their lives on the line to protect us against criminals. A few, Golab reports, are no less than criminals themselves. In 1997, L.A. policeman David Mack was arrested for the armed robbery of a Bank of America branch in which he heisted $772,000. In the late 1990s, as many as 25 L.A. policemen were believed to have direct gang ties. A significant number of L.A. policemen had off-duty jobs providing security for hoodlums in the rap music industry deeply involved in drugs and gang violence. At least one policeman was arrested as a guard at a cocaine house.
In the wake of L.A.’s Rampart Division scandal, where 30 officers were suspended or fired, former LAPD deputy chief Steve Downing said, “Rampart wasn’t about cops who became gangsters. It was about gangsters who became cops.” Downing adds that elected officials refuse to acknowledge the obvious: Institutionalized racial preferences “allowed persons of poor character to be hired.”
Police departments not only must pass racial diversity muster but sex diversity muster as well. Erica Walter discusses this in a companion article, “Cops and Gender P.C.,” in the same issue of American Enterprise.
Few male officers measuring 5 to 5-and-a-half feet, weighing 100 to 130 pounds, are hired. Walter reports that most female officers come close to that description, and as such, risk being overpowered by big thugs.
There are other male/female differences relevant to police work. The typical man has been exposed to fist fights; he’s bloodied and been bloodied. Most male policemen have played contact sports, been exposed to firearms, and are more likely to be experienced and competent at aggressive high-speed driving. Few women police officers have these attributes. Plus, most women couldn’t carry a wounded officer to safety.
The difference between male and female officers was recently painfully demonstrated by the slaughter at an Atlanta courthouse where a judge and three others were murdered. It turns out that Brian Nichols, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound former football linebacker, awaiting trial for rape, was being guarded and escorted by a 50-something, 5-foot grandmother. Nichols simply overpowered her, taking her pistol, allowing him to go on a deadly rampage.
Walter interviewed one LAPD detective who explained, “Most bad guys fall into two categories. Either they show no respect to female cops because they know they can take them, or they fear female cops because they know the women know they can be taken and will shoot quickly.” Walter concludes her article stating that women are often excellent, and sometimes better than men, in some aspects of policing that don’t involve violence and physical confrontation. She warns that police forces should respect the reality that male and female officers are not interchangeable, adding that the real-world effects of pretending otherwise are ugly.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He writes for Creators Syndicate and may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org