I’m a young female RCMP constable with an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and consider myself one of the changing faces of law enforcement in Canada.
Recent controversies have painted the RCMP in a bad light regarding the force’s treatment of female officers, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. The force offers good career opportunities for women, and women have much to offer the RCMP.
Expanding women’s numbers and their influence in policing needs to continue, and I see it is a top priority for ending harassment, and violence against women generally. It isn’t going to be easy, but little is. Police are perceived as resistant to reforms of any kind, and when it comes to women challenging the male-dominant culture, it can appear impossible. However, the force’s administration is determined to eliminate underlying anti-women biases and policies that permeate the RCMP, setting a new standard for all police agencies.
As the world prepares to mark the 100th International Women’s Day on March 8, the number of female officers serving in our police forces is at its highest level ever, with women making up more than 20 per cent of police.
The number of female officers in the RCMP has risen significantly in the past 12 years, nearing 30 per cent. This trend has been reflected in the appointment of senior positions, with several of the chief positions in the force now held by women.
Canada’s police force does a fantastic job in every province and territory, and it is encouraging to see that the officers increasingly reflect the society they serve.
As well as delivering hundreds of additional police officers in our remote communities, the RCMP also has a more diverse police force.
We are already fortunate to have females in the majority of police services, and the increasing ranks of female officers who bring a unique skill set are bringing a different perspective to all aspects of policing.
Every police service, particularly the RCMP, is committed to providing a quality service that is fair, accessible and meets the needs of all, whether in uniform or not. Key to ensuring that police services deliver on this commitment is providing equal opportunities in employment and development so that our workforce reflects the diverse communities we serve.
Collectively, police forces have contributed to better conditions and have developed a range of national guidance, including flexible working, managing disability, recruitment, career development and medical and fitness standards.
I recognize that more needs to be done to ensure that we create a work environment and culture that nurtures a stronger mix of staff working together to benefit all, and to deliver a first-class police service in every community.
In the RCMP, we are also looking beyond the equal-opportunity policies and best-practice initiatives to integrate equal opportunities throughout the force and into every organizational component, bringing respect and value.
I’m proud and excited to be a Mountie, just like my father and grandfather before me.
Kathryn Perry, who grew up on Vancouver Island and attended the University of Victoria, is an RCMP constable serving in rural B.C.
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