Increasing women police recruits to 30% could help change departments’ culture
At the Police Training Academy in Madison, Wis., there are 46 recruits in two groups for the class of 2022. Nikki Acker, 36, is one of nine female trainees in the group who are new to policing.
Part of their training today is how to handcuff a person. Their shoes squeak on the blue floor mats as they practice.
Acker used to be a teller at a credit union and worked in property management. She’s 5’4″ and never imagined being a police officer until she got a job working as a clerk in the records department.
“I guess I had in my mind the stereotype of these big guys with military backgrounds,” she laughs, “and once I started learning more and getting involved in reading reports and seeing the calls, I learned that they’re so much more than that.”
They’re often people with good communication skills, she says, problem-solving skills — and she felt that type of job was something she could do.
Despite all the controversy surrounding policing, her husband and friends encouraged her to try it.
“And if I don’t, who does?” she says.
Women in policing
Women make up just 12% of the law enforcement officers in the country and 3% of police leadership. One of the efforts to increase those numbers is called the 30×30 initiative.
The program aims to have women make up 30 percent of the recruits in police training classes by 2030.
Maureen McGough, chief of staff at the Policing Project at New York University School of Law, is one of the founders of the initiative.
“It’s not just about getting women in the door,” she says, “but on transforming police agencies by taking a deep look at policies, procedures and culture.”