Montgomery County, Maryland, police are working to increase the number of women serving in the department as part of a national program called the 30×30 Initiative.
The 30×30 Initiative aims to advance women in policing and increase their representation in precincts to 30% by 2030.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced the county’s participation in the effort during his weekly briefing with reporters.
Currently, county officials said 23% of the Montgomery County Police Department is made up of women. That compares to the national average of 10%.
“We can do better, and that’s what our plan is,” Elrich said Wednesday.
Cmdr. Amy Daum, who’s been with the Montgomery County police for more than 20 years, said she saw changes over the years “as far as acceptance” among her colleagues in what was traditionally a male-dominated field.
“We talk a lot about having a seat at the table, right? But the reality is that we need to make the table a little bit bigger,” Daum said.
Referring to an adage that says when a man walks into a room, he’s assumed to be competent, but when a woman does, she has to prove that she’s competent, Daum said, “I’ve definitely seen that change here in the organization over the course of the last 20 years.”
Daum said when she talks to women across the country about becoming police officers, there are many concerns about the physical aspect of the job.
“I’m not going to lie, there are situations where absolutely, you do have to use physical force to counteract some kind of struggle,” Daum said. But she said the majority of the time, police work to de-escalate situations, “And women really bring that skill to the table.”
Daum also said that having women on the force in areas such as the special victims unit, which includes investigating sex crimes, is helpful. “It makes an enormous difference in our community when we are able to show up for each other,” Daum said.
The commitment to the “30×30 Initiative” comes as Montgomery County struggles to attract and retain police recruits to keep up with the rate of attrition on the force.
Montgomery County Police Assistant Chief Darren Francke said he was “very, very pleased to say” that out of the 28 police officers hired in the last recruit class, 14 were women.
“Right now, we have a 40% diversity rate when you look at our department,” when representation in all demographics is considered among sworn officers, said Francke.
A new police recruit class will begin next week, with “the potential” for 25 officers to join that class, according to Francke.
In February, Montgomery County introduced a plan to pay a $20,000 signing bonus to new recruits. In D.C., recruits are eligible for hiring bonuses of $25,000.
Daum said attracting and keeping women on the force will also require keeping pace with needed “family friendly” policies, something she said the department currently does well.
Building on that to add flexibility in leadership positions “helps women take promotions and consider an executive track or a promotion track even more than they would have 10 or 15 years ago,” Daum said.
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