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More Women in LAPD

March 27, 1994

* It's not enough to hire more women cops ("Why We Need More Women Cops," by Zev Yaroslavsky, Commentary, March 21). Police agencies need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. One with teeth. To reach that lofty goal requires a concrete commitment from the top, not mere lip service and promises of increased hiring goals.

Women officers have clearly demonstrated the capability to excel at law enforcement, yet still must face the formidable barrier created by a hostile working environment. Sheer numbers of women in the police force will not remedy the problem so long as management tacitly condones unacceptable behavior with a "wink and a nod." First we must correct the organizational roadblocks through education and discipline, if necessary.

In my experience, women officers find it far easier (and more job-related) to scale a six-foot wall than to navigate the artificial hurdles erected within the law enforcement profession.

SHARI V. BARBERIC

Los Angeles

* Females officers in the LAPD (March 17) and FBI (March 12) are filing lawsuits and crying in City Council hearings about male colleagues who sexually harassed them "for years."

These women don't get it. When someone shoves your face in his crotch or fondles you without permission, you need to do some damage. Otherwise word gets around that you're fair game.

As any parent of a bullied child can attest, the only permanent solution is to teach the child to stand up for himself. Similarly, the only permanent solution to sexual harassment is for females to start running their own interference.

Respect cannot be mandated, it must be earned. In law enforcement, where your life is on the line on a daily basis, respect boils down to "who can you trust to watch your back?" A man is never going to trust a female to watch his back if she can't even keep him from molesting her.

BARBARA L. GALLEN

Los Angeles

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