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Fairfield’s first female police chief recruits more women

While many law enforcement agencies are struggling to fill the ranks in their department, a police department in Solano County will soon be at full strength — thanks in part to an effort to hire more female officers. The Fairfield Police Department hired its first female chief less than two years ago and has been committed to change ever since. There were only eight women in the department when Chief Deanna Cantrell started. “If people can’t see it, they can’t be,” Chief Cantrell said. It’s a change Officer Camille Langi noticed right away. When she first donned the uniform nearly seven years ago, she was one of a handful of female officers on the force. Now, there are 20. “That’s been a big change. Obviously, you’re seeing more women around the agency,” Langi said. When Cantrell learned about the national 30×30 initiative, she committed to hiring more female officers. “I know the value of women in policing,” Cantrell said. The 30×30 initiative is a national goal for law enforcement. To achieve this, women must make up 30% of sworn personnel by the year 2030. Currently, women make up only 12% of officers nationally. The Fairfield Police Department actually exceeds the national average with 16% of its officers being women. But to reach 30% by 2030, the department should have a total of 35 female officers out of a force of 124. because I am a woman and I am a lesbian,” she said. The 30×30 initiative points to studies that show there aren’t as many complaints against female officers, and female officers are more likely to de-escalate situations without using force.” on a call, it’s not the first thing you think about, going hands-on,” Langi said. “Certainly de-escalation is one of your key tools in your tool belt.” Cantrell said de-escalation happens when there’s respectful communication. “Somehow women did these things, and I don’t want to say better than men, they didn’t come across or it was seen as rude by the community,” Cantrell said. Rookie officer Elina Mikitiuk, who is on probation until she becomes an officer, has already noticed how being a woman changes her interactions with male suspects. she said. “I’m a woman, so maybe I’m not going to be approached like a male officer would.” Cantrell hopes her department continues to thrive with diversity, knowing the perception now is that it’s the worst time to join in Law Enforcement. She understands why citizens feel this way about the police. “I grew up not trusting the police, not liking the police,” Cantrell said. She said if she can learn to love law enforcement and make it a career, anyone can. “I grew up poor, privileged and in a home with violence and domestic violence. My mother shot and killed my stepfather when I was 9 and I had to go to jail,” she said. She said she met a police officer in her 20s who changed her mind about the police. She hopes others will want to protect and serve.” -chair of Women Leaders in Law Enforcement with the California Association of Chiefs of Police.

While many law enforcement agencies struggle to fill the ranks in their department, a police department in Solano County will soon be at full strength – in part because of an effort to hire more female officers.

The Fairfield Police Department hired its first female chief executive less than two years ago and has been committed to change ever since. There were only eight women in the department when Chief Deanna Cantrell started.

“If people can’t see it, they can’t be,” Chief Cantrell said.

It’s a change Officer Camille Langi noticed right away. When she first donned the uniform nearly seven years ago, she was one of a handful of female officers on the force. Now, there are 20.

“That’s been a big change. Obviously, you’re seeing more women around the agency,” Langi said.

When Cantrell found out about the national 30×30 initiativemade a commitment to hire more female officers.

“I know the value of women in policing,” Cantrell said.

The 30×30 initiative is a nationwide law enforcement effort. To meet this, women must make up 30% of the sworn staff by the year 2030.

Currently, women make up only 12% of officers nationally. The Fairfield Police Department actually exceeds the national average with 16% of its officers being women. But to reach 30% by 2030, the department would need to have a total of 35 female officers out of a force of 124.

“That’s my part of being a police chief and being one of the best recruiters for our department is because I’m a woman and I’m a lesbian,” she said.

The 30×30 initiative points to studies that show there aren’t as many complaints against female officers, and female officers are more likely to de-escalate situations without the use of force.

“Going into a call, that’s not the first thing you think about, going into practice,” Langi said. “Certainly de-escalation is one of your key tools in your tool belt.”

Cantrell said de-escalation happens when there is respectful communication.

“Somehow women did these things, and I don’t want to say better than men, they weren’t met or considered rude by the community,” Cantrell said.

Rookie officer Elina Mikitiuk, who is on probation until she becomes an officer, has already noticed how being a woman changes her interactions with male suspects.

“I’ve had guys I hook up with who aren’t that physical with me,” she said. “I’m a woman, so maybe I’m not going to be approached like a male officer would.”

Cantrell hopes her department continues to thrive with diversity, knowing the perception now is that it’s the worst time to be in law enforcement.

He understands why citizens feel this way about the police.

“I grew up not trusting the police, not liking the police,” Cantrell said.

He said if he can learn to love law enforcement and make it a career, anyone can.

“I grew up poor, disadvantaged and in a home with violence and domestic violence. My mother shot and killed my stepdad when I was 9 and I had to go to prison,” she said.

She said she met a police officer in her 20s who changed her mind about the police. He hopes others will want to protect and serve.

“If you have a servant’s heart, now is the perfect time to get into law enforcement because we need you. We need people just like that,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell also serves as co-chair of Women Leaders in Law Enforcement with the California Association of Chiefs of Police.

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