MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) – Vermont State Police have signed on to a national initiative to advance women in all ranks of policing. The 30×30 Pledge aims to increase the number of women in the ranks of law enforcement agencies by 30% by 2030.
“I think law enforcement doesn’t come out as the top career choices for women, and I think that’s just because it has a history of being a male-dominated profession,” said Capt. Julie Scribner, Co-Director of Fair and Impartial Policing and Community Affairs.
Scribner says Vermont State Police didn’t hire its first female troopers until the late 1979s. Barriers are still being broken today.
“I think police have some work to do in terms of how we convey ourselves and how relatable we are to the public,” said VSP Major Ingrid Jonas.
Jonas became VSP’s first female division commander in 2017. She is among the 13% of women who represent the Vermont State Police.
“It’s like any workforce. If you’re missing a huge segment of the population by gender, race…really you’re not going to accurately reflect the people that you’re serving,” said Jonas. “You’re going to be diminished in terms of your creativity, productivity, even your reputation with the public, and I think that any good agency or business is going to want to have as diverse a workforce as possible.”
The South Burlington Police Department followed suit and signed the 30×30 Pledge. Chief Shawn Burke says about 18% of his force are made up of women. However, none of them hold formal ranks and they haven’t for nearly decades.
“It’s no surprise that majority of law enforcement in this country is white men and we don’t seem to have any trouble in attracting or retaining white men. But what this profession needs to do and what this pledge will help us do is help diversify those ranks,” said Burke.
Scribner says the pledge can create a more inclusive workforce across the board.
“While this initiative is focused on advancing women in policing, the framework behind it and the principles, those can be used for any kind of demographic diversity, not just gender,” said Scribner.
Major Jonas encourages all women interested in law enforcement to get involved.
“I hope that people who aspire to a career in public service and really want to fight injustice and really want to fight for a community would a consider a career in policing because it’s very rewarding and great to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself,” said Jonas.