A majority of police departments in New York are commanded by men. As more women join the force, a week of training now under way in Saratoga Springs aims to prepare female officers for leadership roles.
About 50 women from police departments across New York state and beyond came together at a weeklong training session in Saratoga Springs that seeks to prepare female officers for leadership positions.
The morning training session was being taught by Deborah Campbell, a retired Colonel with the New York State Police.
Campbell served as an officer for 32 years. She said when she started out, very few women held leadership roles. While that number has increased, Campbell wants to see more progress.
“Women are still underrepresented and I think that part of that is that women don’t see themselves as a good fit for law enforcement, when they’re an excellent fit for law enforcement,” said Campbell. “Men bring great skills but so do women. Women bring great communication skills, great emotional intelligence, and especially today when the law enforcement profession is facing more scrutiny and more criticism, I think that women as leaders are part of the solution.”
The program, called the Women’s Leadership Institute, was developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is sponsored by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
DCJS Executive Commissioner Mike Green said police agencies are “losing out” if they don’t have diversity in their leadership positions.
“You know, if you think about it, everyone in our society has talent. And if we’re limiting those leadership roles to a certain group, we are missing out on an awful lot of talent,” said Green. “And secondly, if you have diversity at the top levels of police departments, I believe, you get much better decision making because you have different points of view represented.”
One of the officers attending was Sergeant Laura Emanatian of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.
“It is a great opportunity and a great privilege to be in the same room with people that have truly paved the way for other women in law enforcement and leaders in law enforcement,” said Emanatian. “Because the qualities that they bring to the table and the conversations that they had are very important and very realistic and very creative and outside the box.”
Some of the topics covered in the training sessions are the role of leadership, understanding individual differences, ethics and recognizing and understanding implicit bias.
Emanatian said she will take away an important lesson about departmental power structures.
“As I lead a distinct group of people, I also follow a follow a very distinct group of people. And how to balance that and measure it and have it work hand-in-hand to benefit everybody involved.”
The Women’s Leadership Institute is one of several programs within DCJS’ Leadership Training Initiative. The state aims to train approximately 1,500 officers through next spring.