Potential deputies wait for the results of written tests at the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's Women in Law Enforcement Career Day. The department is aggressively recruiting qualified females.
The ads stretching across the ribbon of concrete dividing two seating levels at Dodger Stadium state the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s current goal, "Looking for a few good women."
This is just one marketing effort by the department to recruit more female officers. In an economy that's still shedding jobs, the agency is proactively hiring deputies.
On a cool Saturday in early June, the department hosted "Women In Law Enforcement Career Day" at its Whittier headquarters. The tag line, "Women Empowering Women," was reflected in the crowds of potential applicants speaking to current deputies, who answered questions about pay scale, an 18-week training academy and starting duties in the court system or county jail.
In a pamphlet handed out at the event, Sheriff Lee Baca, who also spoke to the candidates, mentioned that women serve "at virtually every rank and position throughout the department."
The recruitment is an effort to provide more opportunity for qualified female deputies and comply with a consent decree that arose out of a 1980 sexual discrimination lawsuit.
Almost 1,400 potential recruits attended the career fair. Of those, 1,100 took a written exam that measures reading interpretation and asks no law enforcement questions. The 750 candidates who passed the test have been invited back for oral interviews Jun 19 and 26, according to Sgt. Angela Walton.
The department set a goal, a year ago, to reach a 20.11 percent threshold of female deputies of the 10,016 sworn personnel, according to its website.
At career expos in the past year, as the economy has flagged, a variety of applicants from shrinking industries are seeking out the favorable starting pay and benefits of a county sheriff’s deputy.
"We've been getting a lot of real estate agents and [applicants] from the mortgage industry," said Deputy Alba Yates. "They know we’re hiring, and we have great benefits. We need more qualified females."
Yates and other female deputies at the career fair said they didn’t feel any position in the department was off limits to them, a situation that’s partly attributable to a consent decree that arose out of a sexual discrimination suit filed by Susan Bouman Palomino in 1980. A federal judge agreed with the deputy in 1987, ruling that women had been routinely denied equal opportunity when seeking promotion to the rank of sergeant.
In 2001, the department instituted educational programs for its employees to discourage gender discrimination and foster a more “equity-based and respect-based culture,” according to a Metropolitan News-Enterprise report at the time.
A year ago, the department set a goal to reach a 20.11 percent threshold of female deputies of the 10,016 sworn personnel, according to its website. The agency now counts 16.65 percent sworn female personnel.
Due to the settlement, the department's current goal is to reach at least 18.6 percent female deputies, an approximation of the workforce in other larger departments.