Catherine Ross, Collin County Reporter
The Plano Police Department is hosting a Women in Law Enforcement career event this weekend in hopes of attracting female patrol officers, jailers and records clerks.
Plano is actively recruiting women for police jobs.
Women only make up about 12 percent of law enforcement in the United States, according to the Plano Police Department Professional Standards Unit.
"We are underrepresented, and we'd like to see that change," said Officer Robin Michelle Lewis-Baker, an investigator in the unit.
Baker, a nearly 15-year veteran in the field, said many people were quick to discourage her when she began thinking about a career in law enforcement.
"I had a lot of people tell me that I was too small or that that was a man's job," she said.
Baker said she was one of the only women on duty when she worked night shifts. While times have changed, the number of female officers is still very low, she said.
"Women in law enforcement have not grown the way we think they should be," said Sgt. Dennis McLaughlin, also with the Professional Standards Unit. "We're not near 50 percent, and I don't know if we'll ever be at 50 percent."
McLaughlin said female sworn officers only make up 11.5 percent of the Plano Police Department's force. He cited other statistics that place the average number of women serving in law enforcement in Texas at 11 percent.
"Virtually, for law enforcement, they're an untapped resource," McLaughlin said.
He said women's ability to multitask is one of the benefits to finding more female officers.
Over the past several months, Baker has been recruiting and educating women about the realities of law enforcement, as well as breaking stereotypes -- citing her own 5-foot-3-inch frame as an example of how size and strength aren't necessarily must-have qualities in patrol officers.
Baker and other officers are hosting the Women in Law Enforcement Career Event at the Plano-Richardson Police Training Center on Saturday.
Baker said they want to inform women about the availability of positions from an officer on the street to work in the office in the records or information departments or in the city jail.
"We just want them to know that they can do the job," she said.
Attendees must register for the event. To register, contact the Plano Police Department Professional Standards Unit at 972-941-2424.