CHICAGO — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a basketball legend but also a frequent author and social commentator on race, says police departments like Chicago might have better relations with the public if they had more female officers.
The son and grandson of police officers, Abdul-Jabbar says that TV overwhelmingly portrays police confrontations ending "in a chase over chain-link fences, a dramatic tackle, and a brutal fistfight."
Citing a number of professional studies, Abdul-Jabbar writes: "The reality is that 80 percent to 95 percent of police work is nonviolent service solving problems within the community. Women officers have proven themselves just as capable as men when forced to deal with violent confrontations. And they are better at not provoking them."
Some studies show that women are "less personally challenged by defiant suspects" than male officers, he says.
"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 says.
According to 2016 budget documents presented to the Chicago City Council by former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, females make up about 22 percent of the sworn force. In all, women make up about 28 percent of the entire CPD staff.
In overall hiring, 18 percent of new CPD employees between Oct. 1, 2014 and Aug. 31, 2015 were female, the documents show.
According to federal stats cited by Abdul-Jabbar, Chicago is doing better than the national average in terms of female hiring.
In addition to playing in the NBA for 20 seasons, Abdul-Jabbar has served as a U.S. cultural ambassador and has authored a number of books.
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