University of Utah Pledges to Increase Female Police Presence

The University of Utah Police Department has committed to joining the 30x30 initiative, a national coalition pledging to increase representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030. The university’s police department is Utah’s first law enforcement agency to join the organization made up of police leadership, researchers and professional organizations.

Supporting research for the 30x30 initiative demonstrates that, on average, female police officers use less force, receive fewer lawsuits and official complaints, make fewer discretionary arrests, and pursue better resolutions for crime victims.

“Having a diverse agency is essential to us and is an important part of reforming policing,” said Jason Hinojosa, acting chief of the University of Utah Police Department. “We want to promote all kinds of diversity, including gender representation, among our staff and leadership to continue building better outcomes and interactions with our community. We will use this program and best practices shared by partners to develop further initiatives that address barriers to women’s advancement in our field.”

Presently, women make up 10% of the university police force and 33% of its command staff. On a national scale, women comprise about 12% of sworn officers and only 3% of police leadership, according to the 30x30 initiative.

Signing the 30x30 pledge involves making a commitment to report on efforts to identify and surpass obstacles that women officers face during recruitment and throughout their tenure. The 30x30 program sets specific data assessments and courses of action that agencies can take to track their progress.

“Programs like this align with our vision and efforts to reflect the diverse and rich community we serve at the University of Utah,” said Keith Squires, interim Chief Safety Officer. “We are committed to working to narrow the gap regarding gender disparities in the law enforcement field.”

As of July 2021, ten higher education police departments have signed the pledge. Many of these joined after the Pac12 Chief’s Conference in Colorado, including the University of Colorado Boulder. “This 30x30 pledge means we are actively working toward improving the representation and experiences of women officers,” said UC Boulder Chief of Police Doreen Jokerst. “I applaud the University of Utah Police Department for signing the pledge and implementing strategies and solutions to eliminate barriers related to advancing women in policing.”

According to a news release, during the first six months, pledged agencies will collect baseline data and learn more about female officers’ concerns, priorities and perspectives regarding work culture, parity and opportunity. They will also prioritize practices that support women on the force, including establishing designated lactation spaces, allowing new mothers flexibility in their work schedules, providing equipment for women that fits their proportions, and establishing zero tolerance policies for harassment and discrimination.

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