HELENA – There are now seven female police officers at the Helena Police Department. That’s more than double what they’ve historically had on staff in the past two decades.
Assistant Chief Steve Hagen says whether an officer is a man or a woman — the ability to communicate is key.
“I think it’s the same characteristic that makes a man good at the job. The understanding that the number one component of being a good law enforcement officer is being able to communicate. “
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Bertie Lau agrees that it’s the characteristics of the individual that make them good at the job.
“Each one of us brings something different to our job based on where we grew up, or our life experience, military experience, experience with sickness or illness – each one of us has a different background and we have that to offer people,” says Trooper Lau.
At the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, Administrator Glen Stinar says women are involved in all aspects of the field.
“We’ll see 10% of the makeup of the law enforcement basic class are women. For the corrections/detention officer basic it’s about 25-26% women, 75% men. And for the dispatchers we’re at 73% women,” says Stinar.
He adds that what draws anyone to law enforcement is often the same.
“They have a need to kind of contribute to something bigger than themselves, help communities, help people. You know, we ask every student that comes through here why they wanted to get into the business. And they almost all without fail say they feel like they want to give back and help.”
For the women currently wearing the badge – they’d like to see more joining the ranks.
“I think the whole stigma of law enforcement being about males is gone,” says Helena P.D. Officer Monica Kuehn.
“The basis of modern policing in the United States is that the police are the people and the people are the police. We want to be part of that community. And when women make up half of that population, we want to be representative of that and we’re not right now. So it would be good to see more women interested in this type of job,” says Trooper Lau.
Reporting by Melissa Jensen for MTN News