U of U Police first statewide committing to hire more women officers

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A new initiative is looking to make a change to police departments nationwide, and one Utah agency is joining in.

The 30×30 Initiative is on a journey to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030. It is a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations joining together.

Currently, women make up 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership in the U.S., according to the initiative.

“This under-representation of women in policing undermines public safety. Research shows women officers use less force and less excessive force; are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits; are perceived by communities as being more honest and compassionate; see better outcomes for crime victims, especially in sexual assault cases; and make fewer discretionary arrests,” organizers say.

The University of Utah Police Department has become the first and only law enforcement agency in the Beehive State to join the 30×30 Initiative.

“Having a diverse agency is essential to us and is an important part of reforming policing,” says Jason Hinojosa, acting chief of University Police. “We want to promote all kinds of diversity, including gender representation among our staff and leadership to continue building better outcomes and interactions with our community. We will use this program and best practices shared by partners to develop further initiatives that address barriers to women’s advancement in our field.”

This announcement comes less than a week after Brown University confirmed U of U Police Chief Rodney Chatman would become its vice president for campus safety.

Research from the 30×30 Initiative shows women officers use less force, are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits, see better outcomes for crime victims, make fewer discretionary arrests, and have other positive outcomes.

The U of U reports 10% of its police department are women while one-third of the command staff are women.

By signing the 30×30 pledge, U of U Police say they are committed to reporting on its efforts to identify and address the obstacles women officers face in recruitment and during their careers.

“Programs like this align with our vision and efforts to reflect the diverse and rich community we serve at the University of Utah,” says Interim Chief Safety Officer, Keith Squires. “We are committed to working to narrow the gap regarding gender disparities in the law enforcement field.”

Police chiefs from higher education institutions, after the Pac12 Chief’s Conference in Colorado, have committed to be part of the initiative.

So far, a total of 10 higher education police departments have made the pledge as of July 2021. Some of the participating agencies including Arizona State University Police, Bolder Police, L.A. Police, Las Vegas Department of Public Safety, and Seattle Police.

The U explains that during the first six months, pledging agencies focus on collecting baseline data and learning about women officers’ concerns, priorities, and perspectives on culture, parity, and opportunity within the department.

Additionally, the departments commit to prioritizing practices to support women in the profession, including ensuring there are designated lactation spaces, allowing nursing mothers flexibility in their schedules, ensuring all equipment for women officers fit their proportions, affirming zero tolerance for discriminatory practices or harassment, and prioritizing hiring and retention process that support women.

More information about the 30×30 program here.

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