The Austin Police Department is the latest law enforcement agency in Texas to join the 30×30 Initiative, a national effort that pledges to increase sworn female law enforcement by 30% by 2030.
The department follows in the footsteps of the Waco, Dallas and Houston police departments in their goal to increase female representation in the profession. To achieve this goal, the Austin P.D. has vowed to enact policies to support the recruitment and hiring of more women to the force.
“Our ultimate goal is to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030, and to ensure police policies and culture intentionally support the success of qualified women officers throughout their careers,” the department said in a statement.
Women currently make up 11% of sworn police officers in the department, which lags behind the national average of 12%, according to data obtained by the 30×30 Initiative. The data also shows that women only hold 3% of police leadership positions in the country, a number department leaders hope to change.
Austin P.D. Assistant Police Chief Catherine Johnson first heard of the initiative while overseeing the department’s Training Academy and recruiting unit. She hopes the initiative will ultimately lead to more women in leadership positions.
“I want to see more women putting themselves out there and being in leadership positions,” said Johnson, who balances her work as a police officer and a mother. “Representation should mirror what our community is, and 50% of the community is women.”
Johnson adds that women can also bring invaluable skills to the police force.
“Women bring so much to police departments, and we need to be dragging our own chairs to the table for representation,” she said.
Under the pledge, the Austin P.D. will first collect data on rank and demographics of their officers, and will then survey their female police officers.
The pledge also encourages agencies to make gender equality and inclusivity a priority in their mission statement.
“We’re absolutely thrilled. We’ve seen a lot of traction in the state of Texas, so it was great to see APD step up,” said Maureen McGough, co-founder of the 30×30 Initiative.
McGough said the initiative is not just about equality, but that research shows women can uniquely benefit public safety by using less force and showing greater sensitivity to sexual assault victims.
McGough is hopeful that the program will be a success.
“We absolutely anticipate that agencies that implement the 30×30 pledge will see an improvement in the representation of women across all ranks and an improvement in public safety outcomes,” she said.
Austin Police Chief Joe Chacon was also in full support of the idea.
“We are creating a culture that is inclusive, supportive and respectful of not just females but all of the different diverse folks we have in our department — whether it’s a racial or ethnic basis, sexual orientation and gender,” he stated.
Earlier this month, the D.C. Metro Police Department also joined the pledge to boost female representation in law enforcement.