Phoenix Police Focuses Recruitment Efforts On More Women, Diversity Hires

Phoenix Police Focuses Recruitment Efforts On More Women, Diversity Hires

By Corinne Murdock |

The Phoenix Police Department (PPD) is focusing its recruitment efforts on bringing in more women and diversity staff.

PPD announced they wanted female officers to make up 30 percent of their force. Presently, women make up 14 percent of PPD’s force. The push by PPD is part of the 30×30 Initiative, a national effort to increase the number of females in police departments. PPD signed a pledge in January to fulfill the initiative.

The pledge comes at a time when PPD continues to sustain significant staffing shortages. Although PPD departures from Jan. to April were less than they were during the same time period last year according to PPD data, PPD still has over 560 vacancies to fill. Vacancies totaled 500 last June. 

In an interview with 12 News, a PPD spokesman credited the reduction in departures to the $20,000 raise given to officers.

PPD credits Commander Aimee Smith for persuading the department to sign the initiative. Smith has served in PPD since 1997, working 11 years in patrol as both undercover and investigative positions, five years as a sergeant, four years as a lieutenant, and for the past five years as a commander. Smith also teaches as an adjunct criminal justice professor at Rio Salado College within the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).

PPD follows in the footsteps of other police departments across the state who have already signed onto the 30×30 Initiative: Tempe, Mesa, Apache Junction, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Tucson, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Over 320 law enforcement departments in the U.S. have signed onto the initiative 

The Secret Service, Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Supreme Court of the United States Police, IRS Criminal Investigation division, and FBI have also signed on to the 30×30 Initiative. 

The 30×30 Initiative encourages special accommodations for women, including nursing stations for female officers. Some departments, like in Mesa, are developing special accommodations for women: medical benefits for life, alternative work schedules, part-time positions, and around-the-clock daycare.

The 30×30 Initiative was launched to establish “gender equity,” over equality, by artificially reducing natural disparities in law enforcement departments. The initiative is based on a Critical Race Theory (CRT) approach of weighing individuals based on intersectionality. 

“Each of a woman officer’s many identities — race and ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and more — defines her experience, and often multiplies her exposure to discrimination,” states the initiative. “Black women and other women of color, in particular, face compounding experiences of bias and discrimination in law enforcement because of their race or ethnicity, in addition to their gender. Transgender and gender non-conforming officers face discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and presentation. Other identities, too, shape a woman officer’s experience in law enforcement: a mother or caregiver may require a modified schedule for caretaking duties, or a pregnant officer may require certain physical accommodations.”

The 30×30 Initiative issues a lengthy list of action items that it ranks “essential,” “strongly recommended,” and “recommended.” Those that are deemed essential are considered integral to fulfilling the pledge to the initiative.

Essential action items include: collecting gender, race/ethnicity, and age data on sworn officer applicants, hires, promotion applicants, promotion recipients, and separations and retirements. Also deemed essential was bias training for individuals seated on promotional panels, and for recruitment content to exactly reflect the community demographics. 

The 30×30 Initiative declares that “latent bias” may exist if a department has more female applicants than female hires, and that “gender-relevant issues” may exist if a greater number of female officers voluntarily leave than men. 

The initiative justifies purposeful prioritization of hiring female staff over males based on research showing that females present a reduced risk of excessive force incidents, make fewer arrests, and are named in fewer lawsuits and complaints. 

However, other research shows that female officers are at a greater risk of enduring assault and sustaining injuries when responding to calls. 

The 30×30 initiative works in partnership with the New York University School of Law Policing Project, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE), Crime and Justice Institute, Police Executive Research Forum, National Policing Institute, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, International Association of Women Police (IAWP), NOBLE National Headquarters, Women Leaders in Law Enforcement Foundation, and Women in Federal Law Enforcement. 

The initiative receives funding from Arnold Ventures, a progressive philanthropic organization, and Mark43, a law enforcement-oriented technology company.

Arnold Ventures was founded by John Arnold, a billionaire hedge fund trader, and his wife, Laura. 

Mark43’s angel investors included Goldman Sachs, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, and General David Petraeus. 

Mark43’s co-founders — Scott Crouch, Matt Polega, and Florian Mayr — attended Harvard University together in the early 2000s. Polega interned for three months for major defense technologies contractor Raytheon in the summer of 2012 while co-founding Mark43. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to