Michigan State Police plan to add more women to their ranks

Only 9% of Michigan State Police officers are women.

That’s better than 2-8% in most other state police departments, but worse than 13% in Vermont and North Carolina, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

However, state police plan to improve the situation by increasing the percentage of women in their candidate pool to 20% by the end of next year.

In Michigan, the numbers improve a bit in the upper ranks. Women represent 30% of inspectors (three out of 10) and 25% of senior managers (two out of eight). But they only represent 5% of first lieutenants and 6% of lieutenant-detectives.

Of the department’s 995 state soldiers, only 91 are women.

When it comes to recruitment, the situation is improving slightly, with women making up 11% of State Police Trooper Recruit School graduates, with six out of 55 soldiers being women.

In 2020, women made up 16% of graduates, 9 out of 55 soldiers. This is the highest percentage of women graduating from the school in five years, according to MSP data on school demographics.

Local police face similar challenges.

There could be several reasons behind the lack of women in law enforcement, Midland Police Chief Nicole Ford said. “Unfortunately, the job is very difficult due to the 24/7 operation. So I think we’re losing a lot of people this way: you’re going to work weekends and holidays, you’re going to miss birthdays and that sort of thing. “

Sexism is another reason the job can be tough, Ford said.

“Now that I’m a chief it’s a different situation, but my male colleagues have said some very inappropriate things to me, and even women have struggled with the idea of ​​female chiefs,” said Ford.

“Sometimes they told me they didn’t think women should be police officers. There are still a lot of people who don’t believe that women belong to law enforcement.

Having women in law enforcement is beneficial, Ford said.

“Women are excellent communicators. They try to communicate to defuse the situation before going “on the ground”.

“A lot of times when you have a policewoman responding to a scene and a suspect is involved, there’s no immediate power struggle,” she said. “Often, the mere presence of a policewoman can help defuse a scene. “

“There are 13 women among the 385 members of our association,” said Robert Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs. “But we certainly don’t have any barriers to women joining us.

“In fact, they’re in high demand by the state police department because the department wants to be diverse and represent their community,” Stevenson said.

“Reducing barriers to employment” to increase the pool of candidates from the military and female minority is one of the goals set out in Strategic Direction, a state police brochure that outlines the department’s main goals for 2020-22.

However, there is a catch: Michigan law prohibits the state from using affirmative action, that is, measures to increase the employment or enrollment of historically disadvantaged groups. Michigan is one of nine states in the United States that prohibits affirmative action.

“We have various training programs and courses, but they’re created for everyone, not to hire specific women,” Stevenson said. “We have to be very careful to give preferences to one group over another. The state court has a rule against any type of affirmative action.

By the end of 2022, state police plan to increase female applications to 20 percent of their pool, Inspector Lisa Rish said.

“We do not plan to achieve this goal by lowering our standards. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible so that women who are great for this job but don’t have enough information about it, and therefore don’t see it as something possible for them, can have the opportunity to apply, ”she said.

Role models play an important role in attracting more female applicants, Rish said.

“We meet a lot of people, participate and organize job fairs, making sure there are women among the recruiters. The recruiters share their experiences with the police, so that everyone understands that being a police officer is not something impossible for a woman.