URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Police Department has pledged to make hiring and elevating women into leadership roles a priority over the next 10 years.
The 30x30 Initiative, a national effort which UIPD joined this spring, is a series of actions addressing recruitment, assessment, hiring, retention, promotion, and agency culture. The initiative encourages police departments to take certain actions to improve the representation and experiences of women in law enforcement.
Those actions include things like intentionally recruiting women; ensuring equipment is designed for women; dedicating space to nursing mothers; making sure policies and practices are free of bias; and affirming zero tolerance for discriminatory practices, particularly with regard to demographics such as gender and gender identity, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
The ultimate goal of the 30x30 Initiative is to reach 30 percent of women in police recruit classes by 2030, and to ensure policing agencies are truly representative of the jurisdiction the agency serves. While 30x30 is focused on advancing women in policing, these principles are applicable to all demographics, not just gender.
UIPD is already doing better than national averages both in terms of overall employment of women and in promotions. About 21 percent of UIPD officers are women, compared to 12 percent nationally. And 31 percent of UIPD’s supervisory positions are filled by women.
But there is still a lot of room for improvement.
“This isn’t just about hiring and promoting women,” said U. of I. Police Chief Alice Cary. “This is about creating a better, more inclusive workplace environment for women and making sure that there is equity in terms of the support they get to serve our community in the best way possible and be successful.”
The activities included in the 30x30 initiative help policing agencies assess the current state of a department with regard to gender equity, identify factors that may be driving any disparities and develop and implement strategies and solutions to eliminate barriers and advance women in policing.
Evidence shows that communities win when female police officers get more support. According to the 30x30 Initiative, research suggests that female 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; and offer better outcomes for victims of gender-based violence, especially in sexual assault cases.
“We are grateful to the University of Illinois Police Department for being one of the first in the nation to commit to being a part of this growing movement,” said Maureen McGough, co-founder of the 30x30 Initiative, Chief of Staff of the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law, and former policing expert at the U.S. Department of Justice. “We believe strongly that advancing women in policing is critical to improving public safety outcomes. We look forward to having more agencies follow UIPD’s lead by signing the pledge and improving the representation and experiences of women in policing.”
Cary said that, when women receive better support, that ultimately leads to better public safety service for the community and a better environment for all staff members.
“Our male officers win in this too,” Cary said. “When employees feel supported, that has positive effects on workplace morale and paths to success for everyone, and it ultimately frees our people to do the community-oriented work they wanted to do when they became a police officer.”
The Pledge is the foundational effort of the 30x30 Initiative – a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations who have joined together to advance the representation and experiences of women in all ranks of policing across the United States. The 30x30 Initiative is affiliated with the Policing Project at NYU School of Law and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE).
For more information, visit www.30x30initiative.org.