The Mandan Police Department in North Dakota aims to be one of the most diverse law enforcement agencies in the state and recently made the “30×30” pledge to increase the representation of women on the force.
The department is one of the latest to join the “30×30 Initiative,” which aims to boost the representation of females in academy classes to 30% by 2030.
The initiative was created in 2018 by Newark Police Chief Ivonne Roman and Maureen McGough at the National Institute of Justice, with help from the Policing Project at New York University School of Law.
So far, over 73 departments from across the country have signed on to the pledge.
According to the organization’s website, women make up just 12% of sworn officers in the U.S. and 3% of police leadership positions. Such underrepresentation, they claim, undermines public safety.
Mandan Police Officer Hallie Khalifa is one of eight female officers in the department and starts her day off patrolling the city of Mandan and making routine traffic stops.
“It makes you a little bit uneasy stopping, you know, a stranger,” Officer Khalifa said.
“So, what I did was, I just cut you a warning citation for the speed,” Officer Khalifa said to a driver.
But Officer Khalifa is relatively new to the job. Deputy Chief Lori Flaten was the department’s first female officer. She was sworn in in 1978.
“When I started, you punched a clock when a call came in with the time of the call coming in and then you just typed or wrote in what it was,” Deputy Chief Flaten recalled.
Flaten said that it’s not just technology that has come a long way, but people’s perception of women police officers has changed, too.
“Somebody would say, you know: ‘Are you a real police officer?’ Or ‘I want a real police officer.’ It’s like, ‘I am a real police officer,’” Deputy Chief Flaten said.
20% of sworn Mandan officers are women, which is on par with neighboring Minot and Dickinson police departments. Meanwhile, the Bismarck Police Department has roughly one in 10 female officers, and the North Dakota Highway Patrol has the lowest percentage in the state at just 4%.
Deputy Chief Flaten said that by joining the initiative and encouraging more women to apply, she hopes that female representation in law enforcement will continue to trend upwards.
She added that the department is just about to begin its next hiring cycle.
“It’s nothing unusual. Nothing unusual, and that is good. That is so good,” Deputy Chief Flaten said of the change.