Driving While Female

Posted on November 17th, 2008 by Katherine Franke

One of the courses I teach at Columbia Law School has to do with litigating cases of excessive force against the police.  See the syllabus here if you’re interested.  A couple months ago I was talking to a lawyer, James Cook, in Tallahassee, Florida about a taser case he is working on (you can see the YouTube video of the officer using a taser against a very distraught man – but beware, it’s very disturbing):

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Cook also told me about a case he was handling where a state trooper stopped two young women on the interstate and told them they were going to jail (passenger too) for speeding unless they exposed themselves to him.  He asked me whether I knew of any police department training materials on sexual assault or abusive of authority.   Two of my students, Shelby Schwartz and Brian Ward, volunteered to look into the issue, and their report is available here.

A few things to highlight:

• Police officers recently being trained in Maryland held a competition among the trainees to see how many of them could get pictures of women’s breasts in exchange for not writing them traffic tickets.

• My students were unable to find one police department that included issues of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in their training materials.  And not one of the organizations that do back up to police departments, collecting or helping to develop training materials and personnel policies had a model policy on this issue.

• The Violence Against Women division of the Protecting Citizen’s Civil Rights Project of the International Association of Chiefs of Police have begun to explore the development of training policy on this issue.  Their earlier work centered on training police officers on violence against women crimes, strengthening the commitment of law enforcement officers to respond to these crimes, and enhance the ability of communities to respond to victims.  I was pleased to hear that they are taking the issue of sexual assault by police officers seriously.

•For more information documenting this problem, see Driving While Female: A National Problem in Police Misconduct

In the police misconduct area, much attention has been paid to racial profiling, misuse of tasers and other vitally important issues, but it is shocking – some might say conscience shocking – that despite the common practice of male police officers abusing their authority to extract sexual favors from female citizens, not one police department has implemented either policy or training informing their officers that this conduct violates the Constitution.


  1. […] as my students and I found last year, police departments do not include issues of sexual assault and extortion in their routine officer […]

  2. Heard of affordable responsive or mobile friendly web designs in the Philippines? You came to the right place. Let’s start improving your sales and ROI. http://bitboxed.com

  3. I at this time have a two article Joomla website, though I don’t like the sidebar organism on top of the correct. Is there a way to moreover exchange a two-column jJomla website into a three feature one, or else by slightest shift the sidebar to the left?.

  4. Hi there! I a minute ago sought to solicit if you ever have several issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up bringing up the rear months of unbreakable labor payable to no records backup. Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

Add a comment

Comments are subject to moderation and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Columbia Law School or Columbia University.



"Homeland" Security Abortion Rights Activism Adoption adultery Advocacy Affordable Care Act Alien Tort Claims Act Amicus Brief Asylum Bankruptcy BDS Bullying Census Politics Children Citizenship Civil Unions Clinic Columbia Law School Compulsory Marriage Condoms Contraception Contraception Mandate Cordoba House Criminal Law Cures for Homosexuality Defense of Marriage Act Disability Rights Discrimination Divorce Domestic Partnership Domestic Violence Domestic Workers Don't Ask Don't Tell Earth Day Economic Justice Education Egypt Elections Employment Discrimination ENDA Estate Planning Events Family Law Fellowships femininity Feminism Free Speech Gender and Technology Gender Identity Discrimination Gendering the Economy Gender Justice GSL Online Haiti Hate Crimes Health Care Hilary Clinton Hillary Clinton Hiring HIV HIV Discrimination Hobby Lobby Homelessness Homophobia Housing Human Rights Identity Politics Illegitimacy (sic) Immigration Reform In-ing Incest India International Law Intersectional Feminism Islamophobia Israel Jobs Justice Sotomayor King & Spalding Labor Trafficking Land Reform Law School Legal Profession Legal Scholarship Lesbian & Gay Parenting LGBT Parenting Marital Status Discrimination Marriage Marriage Equality Masculinity Medicaid Michelle Obama Migration Military National Security Obama Administration Obama Appointments Obergefell Outing OWS Palestine Parenting Pinkwashing Policing Politics of the Veil Polyamory Popular Culture Pornograpy Pregnancy Presidential Politics Prisons Privacy Products Liability Profanity Prop 8 Prosecutorial Discretion Publications Public Rights/Private Conscience Public Rights/Private Conscience Project Queer Theory Queer vs. Gay Rights Race and Racism Racial Stereotyping Rape Religion Religious Accommodation Religious Exemption Religious Exemptions Religious Freedom Restoration Act Religious Fundamentalism Reproductive Rights Reproductive Technology RFRA Romania Rwanda Sartorial Commentary Schools Sex Discrimination Sex Education Sex Stereotyping Sexting Sex Trafficking Sexual Assault Sexual Duplicity Sexual Harassment Sexual Health Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Sexual Orientation Discrimination Sex Work Silencing of voices SMUG Sodomy Law Reform Solidarity Sports Supreme Court Surrogacy Technology Title IX Trafficking Transgender Uganda Uncategorized Violence Women and Poverty Women of Color Work Zimbabwe

Academic Calendar  |  Resources for Employers  |  Campus Map & Directory  |  Columbia University  |  Jobs at Columbia  |  Contact Us

© Copyright 2009, Columbia Law School. For questions or comments, please contact the webmaster.