Women in Law Enforcement: A Rewarding Career

Women in Law Enforcement: A Rewarding Career
Posted on 10/01/2018

By CHPD Chief Robby Russo

The integration of women into law enforcement positions can be considered a large social change. A generation ago, there were few jobs open to women. A small number of women worked as correctional officers, and their assignments were usually limited to marginal tasks. Women traditionally worked in juvenile facilities, handled crimes involving female offenders or performed clerical tasks.

That world has changed. The bygone era of women in law enforcement being assigned to a desk no longer exists. The women train and qualify with their male counterparts, with an expectation that they meet the same standard. It’s been my experience that female officers can de-escalate a tense situation and often get better cooperation from female victims. 

Polly Harris, a near 15-year veteran in law enforcement who has a background in martial arts and travels the world on her off-time to compete in triathlons, says: “Working in law enforcement is a challenging but rewarding career. I’ve helped people out of life-threatening situations, convinced victims of domestic violence that they had the strength to get away from a toxic relationship, and comforted grieving survivors."

“I think strong verbal skills are essential in this career. Women can be tough and compassionate and can often calm down tense situations,” Officer Harris says.” If that fails, I’ve been trained to confidently use the tools at my disposal.”

Historically, when unrest or violence against police occur in communities, it’s partially because the representation on the police department didn’t mirror their communities and lack diversity. From this perspective, diversity can include gender, as well as religion, sexual orientation, age, family background or occupation — or even looking for recruits who grew up in Cottonwood Heights and went to school here.

Officer Harris appropriately identifies a unique blend of traits and characteristics that make a good officer, including empathy, effective communication, compassion, intelligence, and the ability to relate to people on a personal level.

These are traits anyone can bring to the table regardless of gender, ethnic heritage or background. Law enforcement is a field that respects and encourages individuality, and we are always looking for women who want to make a difference in the community. If you know someone, please go to www.ch.utah.gov and apply under employment.