Since the inception of Cop Block, its readers and supporters have tended to be disproportionately male. This could be explained by the fact the justice system directly impacts men more than women. Prisons are overwhelmingly filled with men as opposed to women. In 2009, women comprised only 6.8 percent of the federal prison population. Police probably also commit traditional types of brutality (beatings, homicides, etc.) upon men with more frequency.
This is not to say that indirect impacts of the justice system are negligible or minor. The lasting ill-effects of injured, jailed, or dead fathers, husband, sons, and brothers upon society and indeed, women, cannot be overstated, and in any event, the gender discrepancy is not always as great as one would think. The rate of women in prison has increased yearly, at about double the rate of men, since 2000 (see here). In the United States, there are more than 8 times as many women in prisons and jails as there were in 1980 (see here). While a shocking 49 percent of black men and 38 percent of white men are arrested at some point before the age of 23, the numbers are not exactly minuscule when it comes to women: 16-20 percent of women have been arrested by the age of 23 (see here, and more gender incarceration stats here).
Police of course do beat and kill women, just as they beat men. Army veteran Deanna Robinson said she was beaten by police, while nine months pregnant no less, during a child abuse investigation (yes – the police endangered a 9-month fetus while in the process of ensuring this woman was not endangering children; the irony is not lost on us). Video footage shows Robinson pressed stomach-first against a counter, and an officer striking her. Robinson advised news outlets the officers showed her a warrant for her arrest, but refused to allow her to read it, and struck her 4-5 times (more here).
Just a few months ago, Chicago police officer Dante Servin was acquitted for shooting Rekia Boyd in the back of the head and killing her in 2012. Servin was off-duty when he confronted Ms. Boyd and her friends for being too loud. Ms. Boyd was unarmed. Several years ago, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7 year-old girl, was shot and killed in a botched SWAT raid while she was sleeping. The officer responsible for killing her recently returned to duty (see here). In another incident from recent years, an officer tasered a 14 year-old girl in the head for misbehavior (video here). Thus, the horrific violence employed by police is by no means limited to male victims (more on police violence against women here).
Irrespective of the various possible reasons for the demographic breakdown of Cop Block’s fan base, and regardless of the precise gender statistics on police victims, humanity is in this police brutality mess together. Yet, Cops tend to take a different approach to brutality with women, and there are arguably still differences between the male and female experience when it comes to police abuse.
Outside the realm of criminal “justice,” police are more likely to engage in domestic violence, which presumably affects women to a greater degree. Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, compared to 10 percent of families in the general population (more here). One recent example is that of Sgt. Philip Seidle of Neptune, New Jersey, who chased down and murdered his wife as she was driving on the street.
In addition, a compelling case can be made that the type of police violence and degradation visited upon female victims disproportionately takes on the form of sexual abuse.
In 2011, Daniel Edward Dana of the San Diego Police Department was jailed on suspicion of rape, assault, kidnapping, and other felony charges. Specifically, he was accused of threatening a prostitute with jail if she refused to have sex with him. In 2012, he ultimately pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of engaging in a lewd act in public, and the rest of his charges were dropped (more here).
Similarly, Shareka Brown has filed a lawsuit against Bridgeton, New Jersey police officer Baheme Days. Days had responded to a call for shoplifting at a Rite Aid on Jan. 20, 2014, and identified Ms. Brown. He advised her she would be arrested unless they could “work something out.” Ms. Brown’s lawsuit claims Days stated, “There are two ways we can handle this…I can take you to jail, or we can handle this in an adult manner.” He subsequently coerced her into engaging in sex acts between January and December of 2014 on this basis.
Kim Nguyen, a Southern California graduate student is suing the Los Angeles Police Department, alleging LAPD officers David Shin and Jin Oh handcuffed her and detained her for public intoxication. Ms. Nguyen alleges that during the drive to the police station, the officers stopped the car, and one of them sexually assaulted her. Later, Ms. Nguyen was somehow ejected from the back of the squad car, resulting in a brain bleed and shattered jaw (more here and here).
In 2014, San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos faced 21 felony counts related to traffic stops he made in which he threatened women with detention or arrest if they did not perform sex acts. One victim, Melissa R., claimed Arevalos insisted on “favors” in exchange for letting her go. Melissa M. similarly described Arevalos represented he’d release her if she pulled down the top of her dress. Another victim told investigators that Arevalos slipped his hand into her underwear and stated, “Easy, you’re in good hands now.” Another victim claims she was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of a 7/11 on J Street in March of 2011 (more here).
In yet another egregious example of sexual violence against women in March of last year, San Diego police swarmed a strip club in Kearny Mesa with guns and bulletproof vests and used the pretext of a permit compliance check to line strippers up in the establishment and photograph them extensively (see here).
In March of this year, former San Diego police officer Chris Hays was released from jail after serving a 5-month sentence for sexually assaulting women while on duty. Hays had been an officer for 4 years, and was charged after he touched women inappropriately for sexual gratification during pat-downs.
The list goes on and on, and the point cannot be emphasized enough. Ladies, the police are imprisoning your brothers, fathers, sons, and husbands. They beat their wives at 4 times the national average and have the power to coerce women into sex acts. The circumstances and motivations for police abuse may tend to take different forms with its female versus male victims, but police abuse is everyone’s problem.