July 20th, 2024

Police chipping away at goal to have more women in their ranks

By Peggy Revell on July 28, 2017.


It’s a slow but steady slog forward, as Medicine Hat Police continue to try to address the imbalanced gender demographics within the force.

“If you want to police the community, you should reflect the community,” said Police Chief Andy McGrogan about the importance of having diversity on the force — and gender being one of these areas.

“We really haven’t hit the mark there, and we’ve got to do a better job. So how do we do that? We go out there and be more transparent and more open about what we’re trying to accomplish.”

In MHPS’s annual report for 2015, there were only nine female officers compared to the 106 men on staff — a number McGrogan called “embarrassingly low” at the time.

Numbers released last week with the publication of the 2016 annual report show that there were 10 female officers, with 103 males.

McGrogan said he doubts the force will reach the 47 per cent mark of women officers, at least in his lifetime, but they’re working to move the bar towards that representation.

Part of the challenge is to increase the number of women who apply to the force.

If 100 people apply and 10 are women, the chance is only one would be hired, said McGrogan.

“I think we’re capturing the percentage of what’s applying, so we need the percentage that apply up so we can have a better selection process to pick from.”

It’s not about about lowering or changing hiring standards, said McGrogan, but trying to prepare women up front for what they can expect.

For example, fitness standards are quite stringent, and people can be taken by surprise by them, he said.

“So one of the things we’re doing is giving people, not just females, the opportunity to come in and find out what the standards are.”

Earlier this year, a “women in policing” conference was held at Medicine Hat College, to do just that — and also featured Olympian Cindy Klassen talking about her career with the Calgary police, and other female officers with the MHPS talking about their own experiences.

“People think there’s obstacles, that really don’t exist. They think ‘Oh, I could never do that,'” said McGrogan. “When actually there’s a lot of ladies in our community that would be excellent police officers that just don’t É ever envision that could be a career for them.”

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