More and more policemen today are women

East Lyme Police officer Taylor Desjardins checks her computer before going on patrol at the Public Safety Building in East Lyme, Wednesday, January 4, 2023 (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
East Lyme Police officer Taylor Desjardins prepares to patrol the public safety building in East Lyme Wednesday 4 January 2023 (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
New London Police Officer Christina Noccetto, left, looks on as Officer Daquan Stuckey with a virtual reality pose set by Sergeant Matthew Cassier during a presentation of the Apex Officer virtual reality training simulation in the department Monday 28 November. The department is the first in the state to use a virtual reality simulator designed to improve de-escalation and use-of-force training. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
East Lyme Police Lieutenant Dana Jezerski works in her office in the Public Safety Building in East Lyme Wednesday 4 January 2023 (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints
East Lyme Police Detective Jean Babcock reviews papers at the Public Safety Building in East Lyme Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day) Buy photo prints

The Norwich Police Department headquarters on Thames Street is running out of locker room space for its 11 female officers.

Norwich Chief Constable Patrick Daly said the building was built in 1979 “before females were a major part of law enforcement”.

Things have changed and there are more women working in law enforcement today than there were in 1979, but nationally women still make up only about 12% of sworn officers serving nationwide and only 3% have risen to leadership positions.

The numbers have mostly stagnated for two decades despite a growing body of statistics showing clear benefits to diversifying the traditionally male-dominated profession.

Studies show that female officers are less likely to use excessive force, are less likely to file complaints and lawsuits, are perceived as more empathetic and make fewer discretionary arrests, especially among the nonwhite population, said Maureen K. Initiatives for NYU Law School and co-founder of the 30X30 Initiative.

“It’s about going beyond this ingrained societal definition of what a police officer should look like,” said McGough.

Initiative 30X30 It is a national effort that began in 2018 to raise awareness of the benefits of bringing in more female officers and the demographic diversity of police departments in general. The initiative aims to boost women’s representation in law enforcement agencies to 30% by 2030, and has urged departments to take a closer look at policies and procedures to see how they can better support the success of female officers. Departments that have signed the 30×30 Pledge share information about what works.

Norwich is near the national average as 11 of its 80 officers, or 13%, are female and it has one female supervisor. The numbers from eastern Connecticut police departments are all above or just under 12%. The Groton City Police Department has the highest ranking female officer in the area. Patricia Leto was promoted to captain in 2021, the first woman to hold that position in the department.

East Lyme, where five of. 27 of its full-time officers are women, and it boasts the highest percentage of females among the departments surveyed at 18%.

“Our department is always looking for the best candidate to become East Lyme Police Officers, and in doing so we continue to try to create an agency that is community responsive and reflective of the community we serve,” East Lyme President Michael Finkelstein said.

The department hosts undergraduate interns year-round, many of whom are female students, and “strives to ensure that the reputation and work environment, especially for female candidates, is a comfortable one to work in,” Finkelstein said.

He said women in key department positions — lieutenant, detective and federal task force member — help demonstrate that career advancement is encouraging.

“Our female officers meet regularly with community groups, school groups, etc. to show young women that a career in law enforcement is something they can pursue,” Finklestein said.

Daly said he would like to think of the department as female-friendly and is constantly looking for ways to be more inclusive. Finding creative ways to gain space in the department, which has 10 lockers in the women’s changing area, is an ongoing effort as he expects the number of women in the department to continue to grow.

McGough, who previously worked with the National Institute of Justice, the research and development agency of the US Department of Justice, said that to increase the numbers there needs to be an understanding of why the number of female officers has not increased.

“What are the low-cost things law enforcement agencies can do to improve women’s experience?” McGough said.

One of the immediate and easiest changes included such simple things as ensuring equipment, such as bulletproof vests, and uniforms designed specifically for women. There is also a need for a clean and hygienic place for nursing mothers returning to work.

A department may design its recruitment efforts to attract women, but “the last thing we want to do is get women into an environment that isn’t supportive,” says McGough.

She said there was also gender discrimination, biases, and subjectivity in evaluations of new recruits that needed to be addressed.

More than 250 law enforcement agencies across the country have signed the 30X30 Pledge, including some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies like the New York City Police Department. These agencies are collaborating on ideas about how to improve hiring practices, eliminate biases, and learn from each other about what works, McGough said.

Smaller departments are struggling

McGough said female representation in smaller departments like those in eastern Connecticut is especially important because these are places where the pool of candidates is smaller, less diverse and has fewer resources.

Lydiard Police Department Chief John Rich said his department, after the retirement of longtime female officer Liz Smith in 2011, has gone 10 years, without a single female officer. Ledyard’s president since 2016, Rich said he wanted management to better represent the community, but found there was a dearth of female applicants.

Rich said he met with the supervisory staff to find out why.

“Is it something about us or our process? Are we inadvertently doing something that doesn’t attract female candidates?” Rich said.

Rich said the department has taken a more proactive approach to hiring, giving presentations at local colleges and high schools and trying to expand the department’s visibility on social media and at job fairs and other events.

The efforts have paid off. Three of the last five assigned to the 23-member division were female.

New appointments

Taylor Krajewski, 25, of Vernon and Kira Teixeira, 24, are among the three female Lydiard Police officers hired in 2021.

Krajewski said she always wanted to be “a part of something bigger than me,” and said she wasn’t intimidated by a job in a male-dominated field. Krajewski has a criminology degree and was not initially looking for a job in any particular department.

She said, “Lydiard was the first to show interest in me. They were the most hospitable…. They were kind from the start.”

Krajewski said that while some men might have a physical advantage over women, the women she encountered at the police academy all had strong qualities and personalities and “don’t take (crap) from other men and can handle themselves pretty well.”

Teixeira, 24, a native of Old Lyme, said the idea of ​​becoming a police officer was in the back of her mind, but “it being a male-dominated profession, it didn’t seem like a realistic option at the time.”

Teixeira said she does not aspire to work in the city administration but rather in a small town “that gives me the ability to work with the community in a community service role.”

Regarding the hiring process, Teixeira said she was not under the impression that she was hired because she was female.

“I didn’t get that vibe from them. They only wanted the best candidates,” Teixeira said.

Both Teixeira and Krajewski praise the department for being a friendly place with opportunities for advancement and where coaching is encouraged and supported.

Teixeira said she believes there are benefits to having a female on the force, especially during domestic violence calls when a woman simply wants to talk to another woman.

“I’m honestly really glad I ended up here. I love the community. Everyone in the police department supports each other,” she said.

London’s new police department, where Margaret Ackley reached a rare milestone by serving as the city’s first female chief constable between 2009 and 2017, has eight female officers in a section of 64 sworn female officers.

Christina Nocito, a mother and longtime employee of Chelsea Groton Bank, has been recruited by the New London Police Department in 2021 at the age of 42. The timing was right.

“I gave birth to my son at a young age. I wanted to make sure he was taken care of first. Life kept happening,” Nokito said.

Nocito, in 2019, took and passed the physical agility and written tests to qualify for a police officer position when the city was hosting the tests in an initiative started by former Chief of Police Peter Richard. The idea of ​​hiring locally, as opposed to a regional test, is designed to attract a more diverse pool of applicants, including residents of New London.

Nocito said the recruiting efforts made the path a little more suitable for her.

“I always knew that when I was ready to do so, I would apply to New London. I grew up here. Why not help the community I grew up in. I haven’t applied anywhere other than New London,” she said.

Nocito is now one of two Community Resource Officers and a very senior representative of the department.

A female officer in New London has a pending lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against two of her fellow officers.

Nocito said her experience in the department has been positive so far. She said, women can add a different perspective.

“I think we add patience. Few of us are mothers and can add that little twist to things and maybe be more understanding in certain situations,” Nocito said.

Other leaders in eastern Connecticut counties agree that adding more female officers will only benefit their departments.

Groton Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro said his department benefits from the “life experiences, perspectives, and perspectives that our female officers bring to the department. They are an essential component of a well-run law enforcement agency.”

Nine of Groton City Police Departments have 70 female officers, or 13%, female. The department’s highest-ranking officer, Captain Kelly Crandall, recently retired, but the department has three female sergeants, including a detective sergeant.

“We believe we have fostered an inclusive environment that will be an attractive place for anyone interested in working in law enforcement, and who also meets our high standards,” said Fusaro.

G.Smith@theday.com

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