Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and police officials have laid out a plan to hire more female police officers.
The D.C. Metro Police Department recently joined in the “30 x 30 Pledge,” an initiative by law enforcement agencies across the country to increase female recruits in academy classes by 30% by 2030.
Nearly 150 agencies across the country have taken the pledge so far.
D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said he hopes to make his department “the most equitable agency for women in the law enforcement field.”
Currently, 23% of the agency’s sworn officers are women, which is above the national average of 12%. However, Contee wants to close the gap further.
Mayor Bowser said the plan is already underway, with the most recent police recruit class made up of 52% women.
In addition, the department’s cadet program — a pipeline for citizens to join the force — was roughly half female.
Assistant Chief Morgan C. Kane said that she was grateful for the opportunities the department provided for her.
The 23-year D.C. police veteran said her experience at the agency has been “filled with opportunities and experiences I never could have imagined,” and added that the force “provides unrivaled opportunities” for women.
“Your work ethic will be recognized and propel you to great things,” she said.
The pledge to hire more women comes after a federal lawsuit was filed by female police officers alleging that the department has a police culture that “degrades women,” and seeking damages for two decades of discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation for speaking out about it.
The group of women making the claims were also present at the mayor’s announcement.
Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson, one of the plaintiffs, still encouraged other women to join the force.
“MPD changed the trajectory of my life. I will be forever grateful. It took me from a path of hopelessness to one of resilience. I have served this community with grit and grace and compassion and empathy. Women are needed in this profession to help it evolve,” she stated.
Kane did not address specific issues related to the lawsuit, but said the department has come a long way over the years.
“But I will say that in 2022, it is a different agency than even when I came on in 1998. It has evolved, and it has grown,” she said.
Contee also promised to hire a female chief equity officer. He said the officer will “ensure that our policies and procedures are free of all bias, promote equitable hiring, retention and promotion of women officers and ensure that our culture is inclusive, respectful and supportive of women.”
In addition to hiring more women, Bowser called for increasing the total number of officers on the force. The mayor said she hopes to reach the goal set in 2019 to have at least 4,000 officers on duty — a goal that was put on the back burner after her administration froze hiring for two years following the death of George Floyd and the rise of the “defund the police” movement.
“We cannot endure another year of not hiring,” Bowser said. The mayor plans to recommend the changes at the D.C. Council’s upcoming budget session.