MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Women's advocates in Minnesota and across the country say police departments could benefit from hiring more female officers.

They say a larger amount of female officers on a force can help diffuse tension between police and the public. Some of those officers, and experts, say that's because women tend to be less physically imposing than male officers and much less likely to use excessive force.

A 2002 study conducted by the National Center for Women in Policing found female officers in several metropolitan police departments were several times less likely than their male counterparts to be named in excessive force complaints and lawsuits.

Officer conduct lawsuits in Minneapolis have cost taxpayers more than $21 million over the past 11 years.