WOMEN MAKING HISTORY!

As we observe Women’s History Month in March, we want to recognize and honor the many ways women continue to make Broward County a great place to live, work and visit. Women have led the charge toward full equality in the workplace and are critical in building the strong moral character of our county’s youth.

Over the years, women made strong choices that brought historic changes in our county. In 1974, two women became the first female road patrol deputies to join the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Since then, many women have chosen a career in law enforcement. Today, I am proud to say that we have women throughout BSO who are in management and command – places and positions that, historically, were held by men. Our chief of staff is a woman as are others with the title of major, director, captain and lieutenant. Women also serve as K-9 handlers, the crime lab director and undercover detectives, just to name a few.

However, leadership is not about being the first woman in any position, but about attracting the best person for the job. Since taking office over two years ago, my administration has created a level playing field so that women can more fairly compete for higher positions throughout BSO. Today, BSO has more women with the rank of sergeant and captain than under any previous administration.

Consider the sergeant in charge of our aviation unit. As a pilot, she assists in finding wanted suspects from the air and saves lives by transporting injured patients safely to the hospital. Additionally, women also hold significant positions in Law Enforcement, Detention, Fire Rescue, Community Services, Regional Communications, Administration and every other corner of BSO.

In a traditionally male-dominated field, it may surprise some that women make up 41 percent of BSO’s work force. In 2014, we added 148 women to our workforce and promoted 187 other women because they were the best candidates. Twenty-one percent of our sworn deputies are women, which is well above the national average of 12.7 percent.

These positive changes came over time through real cultural change in the agency. Everyone now understands that – black, white, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, Jew and Muslim – opportunities to advancement in BSO are open to all with the skill, leadership and drive to succeed.

One of the principle cornerstones of all police work is strengthening relationships between law enforcement and the community. The National Center for Women and Policing documents how female officers respond in emergency situations in a unique way that is crucial in building trust between police and the communities they serve. Overall, women officers rely more on communication to defuse potentially violent situations. BSO’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) deputies utilize this strategy when assessing situations involving individuals with mental illness. We encourage this style of smart policing agencywide, which grants mutual respect between deputies and our community.

Finally, as 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, we remember our agency’s many historic achievements. We extend our thanks and gratitude to all the women of BSO – past and present – that helped make BSO the great public service agency it is today. I am deeply honored to work with these women. They have brought significant contributions to public safety and our community is a better place because of them. Our women are making history!

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