Do Female Officers Improve Law Enforcement Quality? Effects on Crime Reporting and Domestic Violence

We study the impact of the integration of women in US policing between the late 1970s and early 1990s on violent crime reporting and domestic violence. Along these two key dimensions, we find that female officers improved police quality. Crime victimization data reveal that as female representation increases among officers in an area, violent crimes against women in that area, and especially domestic violence, are reported to the police at significantly higher rates. There are no such effects for violent crimes against men or from increases in the female share of civilian police employees. Furthermore, increases in female officer shares are followed by significant declines in rates of intimate partner homicide and non-fatal domestic abuse. These effects are all consistent between fixed effects models with controls for economic and policy variables and models that focus exclusively on increases in female police employment driven by externally imposed affirmative action plans following litigation for employment discrimination.

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