SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Department of Public Safety at the University of Utah has committed to adding more female police officers to its force by taking the 30X30 Pledge.

The 30X30 Pledge is an international movement that is aimed at increasing the representation of women in policing to 30% per agency by 2030. According to the movement’s website, women currently make up 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership in the United States.

“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.”

According to the University’s Department of Public Safety, women make up 10% of the agency’s sworn officers and 33% of leadership positions. According to US News, in the fall semester of 2021, 48% of the students at the Univesity of Utah were women.

“Building trust takes time and must be earned,” said Keith Squires, chief safety officer at the U. “We also know trust comes more naturally when our officers are truly reflective of the community they serve. To have officers who share a culture, background, views and experiences goes a long way.”

The Department of Public Safety at the University of Utah said acting Campus Police Chief Jason Hinojosa attended a presentation on the 30X30 program and proposed to incorporate it as a tool for achieving long-term department goals.

The University said in a statement that diverse workforces are more effective, creative, and better at solving problems than homogenous ones.

“Women in police leadership often bring valuable alternatives to the traditional command presence style of direction,” the University said in a statement. “They are skilled in communications, relationship building, and connecting people with resources. Women officers are a catalyst for change that results in better public safety outcomes, according to the national initiative.”

Squires, who is currently on a “Listening Tour” on campus, said the University’s Department of Safety is working toward building a culture of listening and wants to address the barriers women face in choosing police work as a career. The department is aimed at creating an environment where demographic diversity is not only welcomed but seen as an advantage.

According to the 30X30 initiative website, over 240 agencies have taken the pledge, including the University of Utah Department of Public Safety and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.