FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.

Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Women in Law Enforcement

Competency Trumps Gender

Police officers learn very quickly which partners they want at their side in the trenches, and gender is not a factor.

March 14, 2012  |  by Kristen Ziman

When I'm asked to give talks about policing, the topic most requested is female policing. As the first female promoted to the rank of commander in my organization, there is a genuine interest in my perspective as a female in our male-dominated profession. I've become accustomed to the request, so I acquiesce but then speak about something entirely different in defiance.

The defiance is not for its own sake. Rather, it is because I have spent my 20-year career trying to deflect the fact that I'm a female (not hide, just deflect). During my cadet years and in the academy, my goal was to perform at the same level as my male colleagues. That mindset followed me through my field training program and as a patrol officer on the street.

Police officers learn very quickly which officers they want at their flank when they are in the trenches, and that knowledge is not gained by knowing an officer's gender, affiliation, orientation, or [insert anything that makes us different here]. Instead, it is gained through a series of shared experiences where trust is slowly built as competencies are revealed.

As I made my ascension through the ranks in my department, I started to realize that each supervisory position took me back to the same mindset. I had earned the respect of my peers at the beginning of my career but now I would have to earn it as a sergeant, lieutenant, and so on. Being competent on the street and being competent as a manager require entirely different skill sets, and at each juncture, there is a moment where everyone is watching to see if you have what it takes.

Once again, this phenomenon is gender neutral and we impose the same expectations on any person who has assumed a supervisory role. I will concede that I may have been scrutinized a bit more closely as a result of my gender, but I never minded that. Most of us who are in this profession are called to it because it appeals to our love of a challenge. In fact, people are only worthy of being called to a higher position if they sincerely understand that they must earn it even after they are called to lead.

It wasn't until I became the first female to reach the rank of lieutenant and subsequently commander in my organization that gender became the focus. The media and the public were trying to shine a light on what I had spent so many years successfully deflecting and it was making me extremely uncomfortable. This didn't change until a young female officer told me that she never considered pursuing rank in our organization until she saw it exemplified.

Since her comment, I've embraced the responsibility that comes along with being the first only because it provides possibility to those who might not have considered such. Despite the emphasis on hope and faith, sometimes you can only believe in the things you see.

My goal is that we come to a place in time where there is no headline that spotlights the first of any person in the human race. Only when it ceases to become news will it mean that we have successfully embraced all people as potential leaders and we will focus less on differences and more on character and competence.

Commander Kristen Ziman of the Aurora (Ill.) Police Department is a board member of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE).

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine