Phoenix works toward 30% women police recruits by 2030

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2023 - 2:14pm

Christina Estes/KJZZ
Phoenix police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune stands outside headquarters on Feb. 13, 2019.

Arizona’s largest city is taking action to attract more women police officers. The Phoenix Police Department recently signed a 30 by 30 Pledge, a national initiative to recruit and retain more women officers.

Phoenix Police Cmdr. Aimee Smith is leading the department’s efforts. “As research shows, when you reach 30% of a group in any organization, it is the threshold where change begins."

The initiative provides no or low-cost steps to improve representation and experiences of women in policing. Smith said Phoenix will survey its women officers before forming a subcommittee to create a strategic plan. 

“One of the things that I  have learned from the initiative and from the other activities of other agencies, it’s not going to be just females. We’ll have a mix of females and males and that’s going to help us move forward in the future,” she said.

Women make up 14% of sworn officers in Phoenix. The national average is 12%

Mesa, Tempe and Tucson have also joined the national initiative. By signing the pledge, departments agree to report — for two years — on their efforts and identify obstacles women officer face in recruitment and their careers.

The 30X30 movement is the result of a national research summit on women in policing, initiated by retired Newark Police Chief Ivonne Roman and the National Institute of Justice. 

According to the initiative, the underrepresentation of women police officers undermines public safety:

“Research shows women 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; see better outcomes for crime victims, especially in sexual assault cases; and make fewer discretionary arrests.”

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