For Jane Townsend, who is chief inspector for the British Transport Police, the fact that fewer than 13 percent of police officers in the U.S. are women is “frankly pitiful for a country that is looked up to lead the world,” she said. The U.K.’s average percentage of women on police forces is 28 percent, she said.
Despite all of this evidence, few policymakers or police leaders are including the recruitment of women in their calls for greater diversification, which have been more frequent in recent years in response to protests over police misconduct. troubled policing.“My recruiting strategy has not changed since the Department of Justice report,” said Handley. He said the department “always want to hire a diverse workforce, including hiring women,” but he didn’t consider recruiting women a priority, and definitely not for the sex-crimes unit, which he used to lead. He declined to say how many officers in that specific unit are women.
Yet, the department has not necessarily taken full advantage of opportunities to recruit women. Earlier this year, retired women police officers in the city hosted an annual fundraiser. While the department “did put advertisement in the brochure” Handley said, no one from his recruitment team actually attended.
The Baltimore Police Department does invest in the recruitment of other specific groups. For example, 11 officers flew to Puerto Rico this summer to identify more Hispanic candidates. (Women leaders in law-enforcement are certainly not saying that the recruitment, training, and hiring of minorities is somehow less important. They simply want to be considered as a group that should also be actively recruited, trained, and hired. )
Handley is not the only official ignoring calls by a handful of women police leaders to increase the number of women in police ranks to better reflect the community they serve––as mentioned above, the White House report on 21st-century policing leaves women officers out.
These days, advocates like Friedl—who came into law enforcement in the 1980s, as the numbers of women officers were jumping from 1 percent to 12 and 13 percent—now feel discouraged. The International Association of Women Police and the U.S. Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Centre for Women and Policing still do some lobbying, but not much. And the National Center for Women and Policing has closed due to lack of funding.
Even U.S. advocates aren’t that interested in increasing women officers. The landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 authorized $1.4 billion in spending––but made no mention of increasing the number of female police officers. When the act was renewed in 2014, there was still no call for more women officers.
Kim Gandy, the president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, wasn’t sure how domestic-violence organizations could advocate effectively for more women officers. “More women police officers is extremely important in terms of dealing with sexual violence and domestic violence as well as reducing violence within the police department,” she said. “It’s something worth thinking about.”