Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The female officer - another rare asset

When it comes to gender diversity among police, the Fargo Police Department is an exception to the rule - a huge exception, said Lloyd Halvorson. "It blows every other department out of the water," said Halvorson, director of the Lake Region Stat...

When it comes to gender diversity among police, the Fargo Police Department is an exception to the rule - a huge exception, said Lloyd Halvorson.

"It blows every other department out of the water," said Halvorson, director of the Lake Region State College law enforcement program in Devils Lake, N.D.

Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus said 20 of his 129 sworn officers - 15.5 percent - are female. The national average, according to a U.S. Department of Justice survey in 2000, is 10.6 percent.

The difference grows when looking only at cities near Fargo's size. Departments in populations between 50,000 and 100,000 have an average force that's 8.2 percent female.

Jason Abend, executive director of the National Law Enforcement Recruiters Association, said police agencies are beginning to realize the unique abilities of female officers.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Women are amazing law enforcement assets," partly because they communicate on a different level than men, Abend said.

Besides those skills, many police departments seek out more female officers to better reflect the other half of the communities they serve.

When Julie Hinkel became a Fargo officer in 1991, the department had about 8 female officers, she said.

Hinkel, now the refugee liaison officer, credited Magnus' focus on diversity since he took over in 1999 with the department's success in recruiting women. To him, diversity isn't about only race and gender; it's also about different life experiences and backgrounds, Hinkel said.

Also, the more young women who see other women in a uniform, the more likely they are to see police work as an option, Hinkel said. The success feeds itself, she said.

Other area agencies don't fare as well in comparison. Still, most are near or above the national averages for like-sized jurisdictions.

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist and the police chiefs in West Fargo and Moorhead said they wished they could hire more women.

One of Bergquist's biggest staffing problems is having enough female officers to help transport inmates. The law requires a female officer in certain situations, and Bergquist said he has only two women for those duties.

ADVERTISEMENT

"There are times we'll actually ask for female applicants only," Bergquist said.

In Cass County, the sheriff's jail and juvenile detention staff is nearly evenly split by gender, 16 men to 14 women. That ratio falls drastically in the field and patrol division, where only two of 34 officers are women.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538

What To Read Next
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack explains the differences between Alzheimer's, dementia and other common forms of dementia.
While the United States government gave help to businesses and people, a lack of assistance has left some Chinese citizens angry and destitute.
Having these procedures available closer to home will make a big difference for many in the region.