While we rightfully celebrate the many “firsts” we have seen over the years in a historically male-dominated field, there is yet much work to be done and progress to be made. It is often the second, third and fourth woman in any given position who can pave the trail and make the male-dominated culture a custom of history. In times of crisis, such as those we are in right now, these major societal shifts often happen without the fanfare of headlines and news crews.
On many occasions, I have challenged people to search for opportunity in adversity and crisis. Since LAWPOA was founded nearly 100 years ago, there have been countless challenges for women in policing. The City of Los Angeles was the battleground, and the outcomes changed law enforcement forever. Without strong organizations, such as LAWPOA, the results could have been different.
Imagine for a moment being told that your career was limited to only a few assignments and that you could never promote beyond the rank of sergeant. We truly stand today on the shoulders of giants, and I am grateful to those who have paved the way.
LAWPOA presently remains focused on four strategic priorities to prepare for the future. While these four strategic priorities also serve the goals of many departments, we must look more closely to see how our priorities continue to support our mission. The following initiatives are what defines us: (1) Member Development; (2) Recruitment and Retention; (3) Increased Representation at All Ranks, (4) Positions and Training; and (5) Community Engagement.
LAWPOA Made Me Who I Am Today
The thoughtful leadership and care of LAWPOA has made this big-city agency feel small and connected. I know that I always have the resources and help that I need to succeed. If it were not for LAWPOA, I would not have been able to grow my career the way that I have.- LAPD Lieutenant
We must always find better ways to recruit and retain talent – both to optimize the LAWPOA membership and to drive our commitment to better policing. At LAWPOA, better recruitment and retention means more talent, diversity, and a stronger voice when facing critical issues. To this end, we have broadened our membership categories to include active, reserve, retired, non-sworn, civilian, legacy supporters (surviving family and friends), and most importantly, students.
Retention is a serious issue facing women in policing. Women, in general, continually find themselves at a disadvantage in the job hunt. LAWPOA should lead the way on innovative and non-traditional initiatives to retain and increase our talent.
This is critical and tied firmly to each of the other initiatives. The only rank and position where we should settle for one position is the chief of police. But even for assignments where there are minimal opportunities, we should be preparing our membership to be competitive. It should never come as a surprise that our members are sought out and recruited for new positions, both inside and outside our organization.
While we should be proud of and celebrate our historic appointments, there is no reason why we should not plan for and expect more. LAWPOA is working on a number of important actions including a type of succession planning that would make it difficult for election boards or appointing authorities to pass over a member. Long before a vacancy exists, members should make a practice of preparing a pool of candidates. It must be a priority to ensure that we promote a culture for inclusivity and support women officers when opportunities for promotion and rank become available.
Community engagement is perhaps the most non-traditional goal of our organization. Many women graduating from law enforcement academies today were not even born when we marched proudly across that field. It has been said, “it is hard to be what you cannot see.” The women graduating today likely saw someone in uniform to inspire them, just like some of us did. I wonder how many young women cannot imagine themselves in law enforcement because they have not seen someone who looks like them in uniform.
We must all work together to continue to prioritize community engagement. It will build relationships for the future. We don’t know what the LAWPOA of the 2030s and the 2040s will look like but we must take the long view and strategically plan to help craft it. As many of you know, we partner with other organizations to help young girls and young women empower themselves and build confidence to “climb that hill.” In doing so, we are opening doors to long-lasting relationships with our community.
I’m proud that this is your organization. We know we cannot fight every battle but when we choose to take a stand for change or against injustice, we will make every effort and tap every resource to strengthen, unite and raise the profile of women in law enforcement.
Attend Social Events, Mixers and Meetings
Host an Annual Symposium for Training & Networking
Participate in Local Charity Events & Organizations
Dedicated to Continued Recruitment