Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Women breaking ground at KCPD

Diversity means a lot more than different skin colors. It means a variety of life experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, geography, education level and more. In a traditionally male arena like law enforcement, it also means gender.

Since I was appointed chief, I’ve recognized the importance of having women represented throughout all ranks of the police department – not as tokens but as leaders. Last fall marked the first time the KCPD ever has had two female deputy chiefs at the same time. Cheryl Rose heads up the Patrol Bureau and Patty Higgins, whom I promoted last fall, is over the Professional Development and Research Bureau. I trust these women with some of the most important functions of this department: overseeing the training of and policies for new and existing officers and directing the 900-some patrol officers who are the front lines of our police force.

Two of our other executive positions also are filled by women – General Counsel Virginia Murray and Associate General Counsel Jamie Cook. And Major Robin Houston is just the second woman on the department in my memory (and I’ve been here 26 years) who has served as commander of the Fiscal Division. She is charged with overseeing the department’s budget and expenditures.

And while women have previously broken into other male-dominated areas of the department such as Traffic Enforcement and tactical squads, another woman this year has gone where none had gone before: firearms instruction. After a successful tenure in the Homicide Unit, Detective Venasa Ray became KCPD’s first-ever female firearms instructor. She teaches recruits and officers how to handle and use their weapons, and she’s an excellent shot.

With 582 of them, females comprise 29.2 percent of KCPD employees department-wide. That includes non-sworn, civilian staff. Females comprise just 14 percent of our law enforcement officers, and we are working to increase that number.

In fact, one of my priorities is to increase diversity of all kinds throughout the department. It’s not just a men-and-women issue, nor is it just a black-and-white issue. We want department members who were raised in different ways and who know different things. They need to have a few things in common, though: be of high integrity and have a desire to serve the residents of Kansas City and keep them safe. Do you think you fit the bill? Go to the careers page on our web site and learn how to apply.

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