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EPD Commits to Increasing Number of Female Officers with '30X30 Initiative'

EPD 30 by 30_2022-1.jpg
Tim Jagielo
Officer Taylor Merriss is special projects coordinator for the EPD. She'll be leading the 30X30 Initiative.

Right now, only 24 of the 260 Evansville Police Department (EPD) officers are women.

Officer Taylor Merriss is going to lead the department in working to change that.

As Special Projects Coordinator with the EPD, she will be leading the effort to have 30-percent of their officers be women by 2030.

“That's a tough feat. Right now, we're at 9-percent, which is below the nationwide average,” Merriss said.

She added that and, they’ll also be losing four staff members at the beginning of next year including two deputy chiefs due to retirement.

“One of the statistics … is that 3-percent are executives, women executives in leadership in the department,” she said. “So for us to lose two deputy chiefs that are women … they've gone 30 years in their career.”

She said overall, police departments need to reflect their community.

“I don't want to see all male officers in the police department. Or, if I was African American, I wouldn't want to see all white male officers. So you want to reflect your community and how you serve your community.”

She said they’ll start with learning how to better recruit and encourage women to apply, and start sharing the stories of their female officers next year.

So why only 9-percent on the EPD department?

“I think there could be some intimidation factor,” Merriss said.

Meaning to some, police could be perceived as a “man’s career.” She said listening to women’s concerns about the job is one way to start — even talking about the uniforms.

“Some women might not feel comfortable in the way it fits, you know, for example, the way my duty belt fits me fits a male differently,” she said.

“So we have to look at those concerns, and voice those concerns and see what we can do different as an agency to maybe alleviate not just stressors, but situations that may arise where it would deter women from being a police officer.”

Merriss said they’re starting with webinars to kick off these efforts which includes raising the number of recruits overall — not just women.

Merriss said anyone interested in police work should apply — the training is paid.