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Discretion and Gender Disproportionality in Police Disciplinary Systems

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Dated: 2000 Pages: 105-116
Date Published
12 pages

Official disciplinary data from the Philadelphia Police Department for the 1991-1998 period were used to study the extent to which gender parity existed in the formal disciplinary system.


Three questions were investigated: (1) whether there would be an observable gender gap in police discipline punishment rates; (2) whether any observed gender gap would be attributed to sex discrimination in the police disciplinary process or some earlier decision stage; and (3) if any observed gender gap could not be attributed to the police disciplinary process, whether aggregate results would suggest minimal observed gender gap. Results demonstrated a minimal observed gender gap. With nearly 100 percent of it attributable to differential involvement in charging, the observed disparity could not be attached to the police disciplinary process. Aggregate analysis masked offense-specific variations in the percentage gap that could not be explained by differential involvement in charging. Implications of the results for police disciplinary practices and directions for future research are addressed. 34 references, 4 notes, and 6 tables

Date Published: January 1, 2000