The Kansas City Star
The Kansas City Police Department plans to double the number of female officers, department leaders announced Thursday morning outside their downtown headquarters alongside Mayor Quinton Lucas.
The 30×30 Initiative aims to increase the number of women in policing to 30% by 2030.
Almost 15% of KC officers are women — mirroring national numbers — while 51% of Kansas City’s population is female. In addition, 15% of the department’s leaders are women, compared to 3% nationally.
Standing in front of nearly 40 women, Deputy Chief Karen True said increased representation will improve public safety, such as making a female officer available to survivors of sexual assault or child abuse, when preferred. Right now, there may not be a woman available, True said.
She pointed to a lack of mentorship and resources as a few of the obstacles women face when joining the police department. For True, a female police officer mentor helped attract her to the field.
Child care, she said, is the biggest obstacle.
“When you work shift work and have little ones at home, it’s really hard to find someone to watch your chlid,” True said. “And even just attracting women to the field, it’s a nontraditional field that women have got to enter.”
Interim Police Chief Joseph Mabin said in a news release that the goal is to promote an “inclusive and diverse workforce for everyone,” adding that they look forward to hearing how women can be supported in the department.
Lucas and KCPD will also hold listening sessions with female officers focused on recruitment and retention.
“We have a lot of areas of our city where there may be an imbalance,” Lucas said Thursday. “KCPD is leading in terms of saying we will make a difference. We will make sure we have stronger representation. And ultimately we will continue to try to have a department that not just looks like Kansas City, but that can speak to everyone.”
Two Black female KC police officers recently filed lawsuits alleging sexual and racial discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation.
One of the cases cited misogynistic, racist and sexist comments. The other said she was unfairly treated by her white female supervisor based on her race, sex and age.
Departments in Overland Park, Salina and Wichita, as well as in Springfield, Missouri, have also signed the 30×30 pledge.