(The Center Square) – Two Democrats in Congress from North Carolina are working to boost the number of women in law enforcement, which they predict will improve outcomes for crime victims.
Reps. Deborah Ross and Valerie Foushee unveiled their Supporting Women with Career Opportunities in Policing Services Act in Durham this week. Ross and Foushee were joined by police chiefs Patrice Andrews of Durham, Estella Patterson of Raleigh and Celisa Lehew of Chapel Hill among others.
“Across the country, women only make up 12% of full-time police officers, a statistic that has not changed in more than two decades,” Ross said. “Despite this, we know that when more women serve in law enforcement, law enforcement departments are more effective and better support their communities.”
The Supporting Women COPS Act aims to incentivize more women to join law enforcement by addressing hiring practices Ross and Fouschee say are biased, and by establishing standards for female officer retention and promotion. The bill would establish a task force on women in law enforcement to make recommendations on hiring standards that do not disadvantage based on sex, and female officer retention and advancement.
Other aspects of the legislation would offer a 5% funding increase as an incentive to hire more women.
“Women are underrepresented in law enforcement, and the Supporting Women COPS Act will ensure that our law enforcement agencies have officers that reflect the people and communities they serve,” Foushee said. “This pivotal bill will not only help advance the role of women in law enforcement, but it will also eliminate barriers they face due to biased and outdated hiring practices. As a former administrator for the Chapel Hill Police Department, I am proud to join Congresswoman Ross in this effort that will support women in law enforcement and make a lasting systemic change.”
“This legislation coupled with the 30×30 initiative are necessary steps towards increasing women in law enforcement,” said Andrews, of Durham Police.
The 30×30 Initiative is a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations who are pushing to increase female representation in law enforcement to 30% by 2030.
The group’s website includes research that “has shown women officers are associated with more positive outcomes for communities.
The initiative reports, “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.”
By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor