LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster City Bureau of Police has signed on to the 30×30 Pledge, which aims to reach 30% of women in police recruit classes by 2030 and improve the representation and experiences of women in law enforcement, according to a press release from the city.
The pledge includes a series of low- and no-cost actions policing agencies can take to help them assess a department’s gender equity, identify factors that may be contributing to disparities, and implement strategies to eliminate barriers and advance women in policing, the release explains.
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While the 30×30 Initiative focuses on women, the principles can be applied to all kinds of demographic diversity, the release notes.
“The Lancaster City Bureau of Police, under the leadership of Chief Mendez, is actively working to improve representation and the experiences of women officers in our Bureau,” said Officer Ziyi Skatz, project lead for Lancaster’s 30×30 initiative, in the release. “We are honored to make this critical pledge and look forward to working with and learning from agencies across the country who share our commitment.”
Skatz is one of the 10 women serving on the force in Lancaster. She said she started her career in EMS, but after working with law enforcement on calls, she changed course.
“I saw the police and I saw what they did and I was more drawn to that,” she said.
The 30×30 Initiative is affiliated with the Policing Project at NYU School of Law and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives. More than 190 agencies have signed the 30×30 Pledge so far.
“Currently, women make up only 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership in the U.S. This underrepresentation of women in policing has significant public safety implications,” the release says.
In the Lancaster City Bureau of Police, 7.7% of sworn officers are women, the release says.
Community engagement lieutenant Glenn Stoltzfus said the department has already made changes to some recruitment strategies.
“We’re taking younger officers and more female officers to those recruiting events,” he said. “I just felt like that person (a woman) might feel more comfortable approaching the table or even approaching that recruiting officer.”
According to the release, research suggests that women officers use less force and less excessive force; are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits; are perceived as being more honest and compassionate; and see better outcomes for crime victims, especially in sexual assault cases.
Skatz said women officers can also better connect with other women on calls, especially domestic incidents.
“To have a female officer arrive, we can talk to the female, make her feel comfortable telling us what happened,” she said.
Skatz said she encourages women considering a career in policing to just “go for it.” She said it is an opportunity to serve their community.
“You’re dealing with other people’s problems mostly. You’re not a therapist, but you’re trying to help them, guide them,” she said.
Stoltzfus added working for Lancaster City Bureau of Police is a chance to earn a pension, receive benefits and work in an inclusive space that reflects the community.
“We have a diverse employees department that looks more and more like the community we serve, and that’s our goal,” Stoltzfus said.