Growing number of women leading US police departments

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Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O'Toole speaks during a press conference in Seattle, Washington on September 25, 2015. (Jason Redmond /AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — A growing number of women are heading police departments in the United States.

Still, the number of women leading police agencies pales in comparison to their male counterparts. Of the nation’s 50 largest police departments, only five are led by women. Dawn Layman, president of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, says more work still needs to be done.

Experts say female officers tend to use wits over brawn to de-escalate situations, and as departments shift their focus to nonviolent techniques it’s natural more women would be tapped as leaders.

Dorothy Moses Schulz is a professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of New York. She says it’s a “terrible burden” for chiefs to be expected to quickly change a department’s culture just because they’re women.

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