Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 21, 2013

Police force should represent real-world diversity


The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

Last week’s Andover Townsman showed the newest faces of the Andover Police Department (“3 sergeants, 5 patrolmen join the ranks,” Nov. 14), five recently hired patrolMEN and three newly promoted sergeants. They were all impressive looking, earnest professionals of the male gender. However, I suggest that the department needs to work harder to ensure greater diversity of working officers, including the promotion, recruitment and hiring of women and people of color. Our goal should be a police force that represents the community being served. Girls in our community watch television shows with women police officers serving on an equal footing with their male counterparts. These shows, from “Cagney & Lacey” to “Scott & Bailey,” provide role models for our children. It is time to bring the diversity of the television world to Andover’s streets so that our children see a police force that “looks like us.”

I note that women perform equally to men when serving on other community police forces. A 1972 study by the Police Foundation compared how well women performed as patrol officers in Washington, D.C. The study concluded that gender was not a valid reason to exclude women from police patrol work. In fact, women patrol officers were shown to be “... more effective than male counterparts in avoiding violence and defusing potentially violent situations”, and also “... were less likely than men to engage in serious unbecoming conduct.” Moreover, citizens involved with the police had the “same level of respect for and favorable attitudes toward patrol officers of both sexes.”

It is time that Andover upped its recruitment plans and advertising programs to attract a more diversified field of applicants. It would be nice if the front page of next year’s Townsman showed the successful results of such efforts.

Lois Karfunkel

22 Orchard Crossing