Considerable confusion exists over male/female relationships in the work place, especially in such male-dominated professions as law enforcement. The laws governing sexual harassment offer unclear guidelines regarding the definition of harm that results from such harassment. This paper addresses the special problems of sexual harassment in the police officer's world. Police work in a hostile environment and the pairing of male and female officers in this stressful setting creates problems. Women officers still find themselves pressured to conform to traditional male perspectives and expectations and many women are assigned to less dangerous positions in their departments. Likewise, the police officer's subculture consists of a kind of brotherhood where officer's constantly support each other so as to thwart danger and to shield behavior from public scrutiny. Although police cadets receive training in sexual harassment, they find on entering the force that veterans disparage such training and rookies are pressured to adopt the unwritten codes of the profession, especially the code of listen and do not speak. If a woman officer does file a harassment charge, she many times must fight this ubiquitous silence and complicity. Psychologists should recognize the many problems inherent in the law enforcement lifestyle, work to educate supervisors, and advocate for victims. (RJM)
Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (101st, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 20-24, 1993).