It is common knowledge that the culture of law enforcement is a tight knit one, one in which once acceptance is gained, an individual is a member for life, unless, of course, that they do something to break the unwritten code of brotherhood upheld by those within the profession. In keeping with the theme of brotherhood, in spite of the many different shades of uniform and the fact that women are present as well, “law enforcement is a lot like a club” (Johnson, 2013), but what does it really take to become part of such a club? As with any club, there are necessary hurdles to pass in order to truly become a member of law enforcement.
“The occupational socialization process, known as becoming blue, is a powerful force” (Silverii, n.d.). Previously, the desire to become a member of law enforcement meant being told upon entering to forget everything that was learned in the academy, concentrate on not making any waves, learning on the job, and realizing that those who came in first were no longer revered, as they were in the academy, but shunned (Silverii, n.d.). In today’s digital age, however, a shift is starting to occur wherein those of the newer generation are better educated, more concerned with completing their jobs to the best of their ability, attempting more progressive mentorships as opposed to the past, wherein mediocrity was drilled into new recruits, ensuring that they did not surpass their more seasoned counterparts (Silverii, n.d.). A large part of the acceptance into the culture of law enforcement is not, as one might think, doing one’s job to the best of one’s ability, but the ability to become socially accepted and gain the acceptance of one’s peers (Silverii, n.d.). It is to this end that the previous system of acceptance and a decrease in overall quality of work was, in the past, able to occur. In fact, peer acceptance has become one of the greatest pressures in law enforcement; those who are able to network appropriately, become one of the guys, so to speak, are the ones who are more likely to excel (Woolsey, 2010).
There are a variety of different ways to work to ensure acceptance in the culture of law enforcement for a woman, including the appropriate presentation of oneself, the effective use of communication, and the ability to be agreeable and accepting of the predominantly male culture (Woolsey, 2010). First and foremost, the female entering into the culture of law enforcement should realize that she is attempting to enter what has been a boy’s club for centuries. She should understand that she can either become offended by their comments, humor, and attempted wit, thus alienating herself from the culture she is attempting to enter, or she can work to play along, setting the line for good natured teasing farther back than she would in any other situation. She should realize the line between harassment and humor, but she should also be able to differentiate between that which is said in good jest and that which is said maliciously or lasciviously. She should work to convey information in an informative and helpful manner, always cautious of phrasing to ensure that she does not put down others, and she should present herself in a manner which becomes an officer in blue.
By working to ensure that she is accepting of the culture that she is attempting to enter, she will find it that much easier to enter into such a culture, working to integrate into the club as opposed to taking a battering ram and attempting to bash down the door. Though it is true that the culture of law enforcement is predominantly male oriented, this does not mean that a woman will not be accepted; it simply means that she must adopt a different tactic than her male counterpart would, working to show that they can complete the same amount of work at the same or better quality, while still retaining the feminine characteristics of being a pleasant individual to have around, one who works to accommodate others, as opposed to attempting to join the culture by force.