Women in policing

Breanna Roen, Staff Writer

Until recently, I have wanted to become an officer of the law, and I am a woman. My passion has always been to help people in any way I can. I’ve wanted to become a police officer for a while now, and a huge inspiration behind that drive is my godfather.

He’s been an officer for 38 years now. Every time I saw my godfather in uniform, I was always taken over by admiration. Sadly, my godfather will be retiring soon, even though it isn’t so sad for him.

In our great country we have 1.3 million sworn police officers patrolling and protecting every nook and cranny of our nation. An officer’s job is more than making arrests and filing paperwork. It’s an ambiguous job, filled with different scenarios each and every day.

I’m currently taking an Introduction to Policing class taught by an officer who details real-life experiences he has encountered, which tie along to the lecture material we have learned in class. Taking this class has helped me learn more about policing history, organization, types of policing and other information I never thought I would learn.

As stated previously, I am a woman, but this doesn’t impact my opportunity of getting hired by an agency across the country. My best friend is also becoming an officer and is joining the academy soon. The amount of times her and I have been laughed at for becoming a police officer is more than we can count on both of our hands.

People ask me why I want to become a police officer, and my answer usually is to help people when they need it the most, along with keeping our neighborhoods safe.

I usually get a rebuttal along the lines of, “why don’t you want to be a nurse or an interior decorator or a teacher?” I’ve been asked this question since I was in high school. Frankly, I am tired of people throwing others into subcultures and basically telling them to “stay put.”

We are now in 2017. Why are certain subcultures are still told to not break free of social barriers? It pleases me to see that in 2013, the Uniform Crime Report (used by agencies all over the United States) reports that women make up 26.6 percent of the amount of police officers serving on the force. This number has gradually been increasing over the past couple decades, from 1987 to today.

I previously mentioned I had recently changed the direction of my career. I am still very intrigued by the inner workings of the criminal justice system. I have just opted out of becoming a police officer. I believe attending law school would be the best option for me. This doesn’t lessen my chances, but I have been wondering why women much like myself are opting out of becoming officers?

The first obvious answer is the simple fact that they do not want to in the first place. Secondly, is they are interested in the criminal justice system, but decide police work is not the route they want to take (much like myself). With that aside, I should clarify why women who wanted to be in the force have decided not to.

I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t join because of the idea of having rotating shifts scares them away from not being able to see their children. On that same note, in this profession you will see things done to children that no child should have to go through. This trauma may reflect back on family life, and parents become worried the same might happen to theirs.

Another common misconception is the authority of a police officer who is female. Men may look down upon her in her unit or people who are arrested may see her as weak and unable to correctly do their job, therefore undermining her authority.

After having a class with officer Eberhardt, he has told us stories of how female police officers have had to step in and contain the situation and they do it well. Stigmas and stereotypes are many reasons why women aren’t keeping the track of policing in their minds if it is a career they have wanted to be a part of.

If we can end the stereotype of women in policing. We may just see more ponytails behind the badge. Don’t forget you can do anything you set your mind to.

Breanna Roen is a staff writer for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  [email protected]