RCMP hope to re­cruit more fe­male of­fi­cers

Con­sta­ble to host Women in Polic­ing pre­sen­ta­tion

StarMetro Edmonton - - Edmonton - Kevin Maimann

Po­lice en­counter many sit­u­a­tions where a woman is best suited for the job. So when men make up al­most 80 per cent of a po­lice ser­vice, some­times the peo­ple who call 911 don’t get the help they’re seek­ing.

Ed­mon­ton RCMP Const. Penny Gavin said she’s had nu­mer­ous calls in her 12-year ca­reer where com­plainants specif­i­cally needed to talk to a woman.

“Mainly it’s do­mes­tic sit­u­a­tions, where you have a fe­male that only wants to speak to a fe­male of­fi­cer. Or sit­u­a­tions where it’s sex­ual as­sault; they only want to speak to a fe­male of­fi­cer. So it helps if you have mem­bers at your de­tach­ment that’s able to han­dle those type of sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

The RCMP set a 10-year goal in 2015 to in­crease the per­cent­age of women in the ser­vice from 21.5 per cent to 30 per cent.

Gavin, who works in re­cruit­ing, is host­ing a Women in Polic­ing pre­sen­ta­tion at K Di­vi­sion head­quar­ters Tues­day for women who want to be­come Moun­ties. There they can ask ques­tions they might not feel com­fort­able ask­ing men.

“A lot of fe­males can cer­tainly do the job; it’s just whether or not they be­lieve in them­selves to be able to do it,” Gavin said.

She said she has never felt her gen­der was a bar­rier in polic­ing, but she at­tributes that to strong role mod­els she had grow­ing up in a small New­found­land town where her vol­ley­ball coach, a close friend’s sis­ter and her brother-in-law’s sis­ter were all RCMP of­fi­cers.

While Gavin wanted to be an of­fi­cer since high school, her par­ents con­vinced her to go to univer­sity. She got a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence and be­came an an­i­mal nu­tri­tion­ist, but that didn’t stick.

“I was away on a con­fer­ence when I wit­nessed an 87-year-old lady be­ing mugged by a lit­tle punk. And when I got back to work I was like, you know what, I think I’d like to try out,” she said.

“I had three re­ally good, strong fe­male in­flu­ences when I was grow­ing up that were al­ready RCMP of­fi­cers. So I knew it was very doable if I had met the re­quire­ments.”

Nikki Wes­ley/Metro­laNd

ed­mon­ton rCMP will hold a pre­sen­ta­tion to en­cour­age more women to be­come Moun­ties.

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