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Increasing Female Police Recruits Has Potential For Culture Change

Women make up just twelve percent of U.S. law enforcement officers and three percent of police leadership. One effort to increase those numbers is the 30x30 initiative, NPR reports. The program aims to have women make up thirty percent of the recruits in police training classes by 2030. Maureen McGough, chief of staff at the Policing Project at New York University School of Law, is a founder of the initiative. "It's not just about getting women in the door," she says, "but on transforming police agencies by taking a deep look at policies, procedures and culture." Nearly 200 agencies have signed onto the project. Interest surged after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the protests that followed.


"There's been a lot of scrutiny of the profession, understandably and justifiably so," says Madison, Wi., Assistant Police Chief Paige Valenta, the highest-ranking woman on the force. While many agree that police departments should reflect the communities they serve, critics argue that efforts to hire women and people of color can't eliminate longstanding bias and racism in policing. Valenta says the challenging atmosphere has made recruiting difficult. "It's not traditionally been a profession that's been very welcoming to women," says Valenta. "So, I do think there's a long way to go nationally, but I do think that we have been doing a lot of good things and are way ahead of the curve in Madison." Nearly 270,000 people live in Madison. The crime rate is lower than the the national average and other cities its size like Fort Wayne, Id., and Reno Nv. In 2020, there were reports of 738 violent crimes.