THE HONORABLE DEBORAH J. DANIELS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
2004 WOMEN IN POLICING CONFERENCE
SPONSORED BY THE NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT
AND THE POLICEWOMEN'S ENDOWMENT ASSOCIATION
FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2004
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Commissioner Kelly; Commissioner Fyfe; Deputy Chief Pizzuti; and other distinguished guests: Good afternoon. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this celebration of the contributions women police officers have made and continue to make every day to ensure the safety and security of our communities.
As the theme of this conference recognizes, today, thousands of women, here in New York and across the nation, are on the front lines of our country's war on terrorism and other crime, serving their communities and their country as police officers. I know that, at this conference, you are also celebrating the many women, including police officers, who serve their country as members of our Armed Forces, working to protect America and to ensure freedom all across the globe. I want to thank Shoshanna Johnson and all of you who are serving our country, both in the military and on the front lines of protecting our communities, for your courage and your commitment to duty.
As we know, women have in recent years been changing the face of our military services. And here at home, women are changing the face of policing. Although, overall, the number of women in sworn law enforcement positions remains relatively small, women are making significant gains, particularly in large police departments like NYPD.
Times have changed since I entered the criminal justice system as a deputy prosecutor some 25 years ago. There were very few female sworn officers, and I knew of none in leadership positions.
By contrast, in 2001, women accounted for almost 13 percent of all sworn law enforcement positions in agencies with 100 or more sworn personnel - almost one and a half times the percentage in 1990. As Commissioner Kelly indicated, women account for 17 percent of sworn personnel on NYPD.
Of perhaps even greater significance is the fact that women also have made tremendous gains in command law enforcement positions.
Today, as I'm sure every officer in this room is well aware, women head the police departments in five major U.S. cities - Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Nashville. And a woman, Chief Mary Anne Viverette of Gaithersburg, Maryland, will soon take the reins as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
These are strong women, with tremendous leadership and management skills, who are leading their agencies to become models of modern policing. Equally noteworthy is the fact that each of these chiefs has the respect and admiration of the members of her force, and that of her fellow chiefs.
Many more women across the country today hold leadership positions in law enforcement: women like Chief Joanne Jaffe, the first woman at the NYPD to wear three stars; women like Chief Diana Pizzuti, commanding officer of your police academy; and women like Chief Joyce Stephen, NYPD's commanding officer for community affairs.
These leaders, and women police officers across the country, bring unique strengths to policing. Research has found that women police officers rely more on communications skills and less on physical force than their male counterparts. As a result, researchers say, women officers are often better at defusing potentially violent confrontations and are less likely to be involved in use-of-excessive force situations.
Research also shows that women officers respond more effectively to domestic violence incidents, which account for about half of all violent crime calls to police - and, as you well know, pose significant danger to both the victim and the responding officer.
As these officers are proving, policing today involves more brains than brawn. Since the terrible days following the September 11th terrorist attacks, all of us in law enforcement have become acutely aware of the critical importance of intelligence and communication in preventing terrorism and other crimes. Women police officers have the brains, the skills, and the experience to make meaningful contributions to our nation's war on terrorism and other crime.
Of course, while women have come a long way in policing since 1891, when the first police matrons were sworn in here in New York, we still have some distance to go in this country to ensure that women are fully represented in our nation's law enforcement agencies and that women police officers have every opportunity for advancement up the ranks.
I am confident these gains will come, as more and more women like those in this room prove their worth as capable and talented police officers and leaders, blazing the trail for additional women who may consider a career in law enforcement. And the strong support of men like Commissioner Kelly will speed advances by women on the force.
I want to thank Commissioner Kelly, the Policewomen's Endowment Association, and all of you, for your efforts to increase the numbers of women in policing here in New York and to showcase the important contributions women are making in New York, across the country, and throughout the world in protecting our communities and our homeland.
Thank you for all you are doing to keep us safe. And thank you very much for the honor of addressing you.