Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA champion, league MVP, and the son and grandson of police officers, believes a chief priority in reducing police brutality should be the recruitment of more women to police forces. Abdul-Jabbar observes that America’s trust in police has hit a 22-year low, an issue compounded by incidents of police brutality and a system with no real means of punishing officers for transgressions. While he approves of solutions such as having officers wear video cameras and training cadets in cultural sensitivity, Abdul-Jabbar believes the easiest and most practical step to improve trust in police and reduce brutality is to hire women. Local police departments employ only 12 percent women, and state police only 6.5 percent, but studies find that not only are communities more trusting of officer teams with a woman but that women are better at de-escalating violent situations — a 1992 study concluded that women “are less personally challenged by defiant suspects and feel less the need to deal with defiance with immediate force or confrontational language.” As to why there aren’t more female police officers, Abdul-Jabbar blames issues of sexual harassment and the misconception that brawn is important in a police officer. Between 80 and 95 percent of police work, he notes, is nonviolent service solving problems within the community.
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