INDIANAPOLIS, Ind— Policing is often thought of as a boys’ club, but on Thursday, the club belonged to the girls-- at least at the police academy.
“The more prepared they are, whether it’s through nutrition, whether it’s through confidence, will certainly help them be successful when they reach our academy,” said IMPD’s Sgt. Ida Williams.
IMPD is laser-focused on women because as the proportion of women in most occupations has grown over the last few decades, it hasn’t at the Indianapolis department.
In fact, a 28-year veteran says there were more female officers in the department in the 80s than there are today.
The department is trying to change that, with a new focus on getting more female recruits through the door and the academy. First, they have to make sure more female applicants get past the tests.
They kick started the effort with the department’s first-ever women-only workshop.
“I honestly feel blessed to even be a part of it,” said applicant Kashja Tabor. “Even if I don’t make it all the way through, just to know that I was a part of something that happened for the first time is kind of amazing.”
Tabor is a criminal justice major at Ball State University. She says she’s been set on joining IMPD for years, but is nervous about the physical fitness test.
IMPD recruiters say that’s where they lose a lot of their female applicants. The standards for the test are set the same for men and women and some women aren’t prepared for the upper body test.
“I liked getting more information on the physical because that’s going to be very scary for me,” said Tabor. “I’m not a push-up person, so I was kind of nervous.”
Trainers showed Tabor and others exercises they could do at home to build up strength, to have a better chance at beating the test.
“I think that the more we can supply any of our recruits with information helps them to be more competitive in the process,” said Sgt. Williams.
The workshop also gave participants a realistic look at the demands of the job, using a “shoot, don’t shoot” simulator and explaining the rigors of the police academy.
“In a way it kind of makes me anxious,” said Haily McCracken, another potential applicant. “I want to get out here.”
For some women, though, the workshop made it clear a career at IMPD isn’t for them.
But McCracken said the workshop only made her goals even clearer.
“I came out here and I’m the smallest person in the room,” said McCracken. “I mean, that makes me want to work hard. I want to be the strongest girl. I might be small, but I’m going to be the toughest girl out here, you know?”