A lot of criticism was heard regarding the
fact that a female deputy was escorting
such a big, dangerous man.  There's little
doubt that a male deputy the same age
and size as the female deputy would have
fared any better.  Nichols' subsequent
violence showed he had a plan indicating
to some that even a male deputy equal in
size and strength wouldn't have changed
anything.  But...by crediting him with a
plan, one must assume he gave
considerable thought to the certainty
that he could disarm the deputy.  If the
deputy had been equal in size and
strength, one must wonder if Nichols
would have delayed his plan; until, a
target of more certainty presented itself.

One needs to understand how men think:

When I was a brand new police officer, I
worked with an officer who was amazing
when it came to use of force.  He was
only of medium height, but he was all
muscle.  He never looked that big,
because his uniform never fit that well.  
His winter coat sort of just hung on him
making him look somewhat frail.

On a number of occasions, he and I
confronted suspects who were definite
candidates for use of force.  I was
considerably taller, and in every instance,
these bad guys focused on my shorter

Not one of those guys ever got past the
first offensive gesture, because that first
move was always met with one
devastating knock out punch.  The officer
could take a punch as well.  As we placed
one of the officer's semi-conscious would
be sparring partners into the paddy
wagon, the suspect kicked the officer
squarely on his chin.  He stumbled back a
couple of steps, shook his head, and he
went back to subduing the suspect.

I've talked a lot about the man's
psychological edge, but there are so
many other factors when a man
contemplates resisting any police officer's
use of force against him.  Any man, aside
from a true mental case, always
considers the possibility, or to some the
certainty, of retribution:

I was still really new when I became
involved in a particularly violent
altercation with a suspect my size.  I was
very relieved when I heard radios and
saw hands reaching down to separate us.

After I checked by torn uniform, counted
by various bumps and bruises, and
generally put myself back together, I
walked over to where the suspect had
been placed inside the wagon.  I noticed
the suspect had a laceration to his lip
which I did not recall seeing when I was
pulled off of him.  I also noticed a line of
police officers trying to get past the
wagon man and into the back of the

The wagon man was one of the old guys,
and he was having none of it.  The
sergeant soon arrived, and the wagon
man had his ear.  I then saw the
sergeant grab on to an officer who was
even newer than I and put him inside the
wagon with the prisoner for the ride to
the station.

While retribution does not occur with the
regularity as it once did, bad guys still
believe it does.  Police departments are
constantly in the process of projecting a
kinder, gentler image, but let's hope the
bad guys never buy into that image.

In my book, and on this site, I talk a lot
about self-sufficiency.  However, use of
force is one area where no police officer
can succeed in achieving total
self-sufficiency.  Police officers quickly
learn that their safety, and indeed their
very survival, depends on their fellow
police officers.

Feminists and others are very
disappointed that women don't comprise
a larger percentage of police
departments.  Whatever the reasons, it's
no coincidence that height and
proportionate weight requirements for
police officers were abandoned at the
same time women entered police work as
police officers.  While your height and
weight won't be discriminating factors
against your employment as a police
officer, you should make a personal and
honest assessment of your physical
abilities to exert force and defend
In 2005, the rate of assaults on police
officers was 11.9 per 100 sworn officers
- breakdown by sex is not available.  In
2005, fifty-five police officers were
feloniously killed in the line of duty.  Of
those 55 killed, only one was a female
police officer.  From 1996 to 2005, 575
police officers were feloniously killed.  Of
that number, 29 were female.

I looked at the total number of assaults
reported for 2005.  The law enforcement
agencies that reported assault data to
the FBI employed 485,048 sworn
officers.  Depending on where you look,
females comprise 10 to 14 percent of the
nation's police officers.  Let's spilt the
difference at 12%.  Now we have 58,206
female officers and 426,842 male officers
Since information on male/female
police officer assaults is not available, it's
impossible to know if female officers are
assaulted at a greater or lesser rate than
male officers.

So...we're pretty much left with beliefs
and perceptions when it comes to your
ability as a female police officer to exert
force against a group which will be
predominantly male.  However, the
only belief that matters is your belief in
your ability to exert force just as
effectively as most men.  You'll soon
learn that few male police officers can get
handcuffs on another man who doesn't
want to be cuffed when it's a one on one
use of force.  

There's no question that physical size
has a lot to do with any police officer's
ability to exert force or effectively defend
oneself whether the officer is male or

On March 11, 2005, Brian Nichols, 33,
was being escorted by a 51 year old
female sheriff's deputy to his rape trial
inside an Atlanta Courthouse.  Nichols
disarmed and seriously injured the
deputy, who was half his size, before
entering the courtroom and shooting the
judge and court reporter to death with
the deputy's gun.  He would murder
another sheriff's deputy on his escape
from the courthouse as well as an off
duty federal agent, at the agent's home,
as he eluded capture.
Here's the good news...as a female police
officer, you can get away with a lot more
when it comes to the use of force than
male police officers.  I'm not talking about
indiscriminate use of deadly force or
anything that is
obviously excessive force.

But...obvious is the key word.  To a
whole lot of people, any use of force by a
police officer is obvious excessive force.  
To a whole lot of other people, any force
used by a female police officer against a
male suspect is reasonable and justified
even if the justification needs to be
stretched a bit.

The feminists spend a lot of time
complaining about how female police
officers are viewed and treated differently
from male police officers.  However, the
feminist view is always selective, and it
always dwells on negative or perceived
negative treatment of female police
officers by their male coworkers and
supervisors.  When it comes to the very
serious question of force, the feminist
view would have you believe that, as a
female police officer, you'll rarely find the
need to use any kind of force since your
conflict resolution skills are far superior
to those of men.  This is the view most
often cited to confront any criticism
regarding a woman's ability to physically
confront and subdue male suspects.

Let's put aside all the back and forth by
people who simply have no idea what use
of force is all about.  Whether you're
female or male, you should always view
any level of force as a last resort.  The
improvement of your ability to calmly,
rationally, and effectively communicate
with people under stressful
circumstances should be a goal pursued
continuously throughout your career.  
Never the less, you must realize that
your use of force is inevitable.  The
number of times you use force will be
dictated only by the amount of time you
remain in a position where your duties
are enforcement oriented.

As a young woman contemplating a
police career, you might feel that the
women who pioneered entry into police
departments before you were born made
the way smoother for you.  As a man
who got to see women in police work
from the beginning to the present, I see
something just the opposite.  When
women first entered police departments
to perform the same duties as men,
those women didn't have the word
VICTIM" stamped across their
foreheads.  Can anyone seriously argue
that, in today's society, women are not
continually portrayed as victims for any
number of physical outrages at the
hands of men?  Factual or not, this
societal image of women does not benefit
a female police officer.

Here's the bad news.  All men, barring
those with significant physical disability,
believe they're physically superior to any
woman when it comes to the question of
which can physically subdue the other.  
Whether the outcome of a particular
physical confrontation proves or
disproves this belief is irrelevant since it
remains a psychological advantage for a
bad man, and a psychological
disadvantage for a female police officer.
Female Cops
and Force
"All men, barring those with
significant physical disability, believe
they're physically superior to any
woman when it comes to the
question of which can physically
subdue the other." ~ Barry M. Baker

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Police Exam Self Help
by Sergeant George
Godoy (Ret).  
Sergeant Godoy
served for 5 years as a police
recruitment specialist where he
personally tested over 1,000
potential police recruits.
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Today's police officers are
afforded the best ballistic
protection in history... and
it only gets better.
While television police
shows and movies are not
normally the best examples
for you to apply to your
police career, they do
sometimes offer some
valuable insights.
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