University of Utah Police pledge to increase representation of women by 2030

The University of Utah Police Department is the first and only law enforcement agency in Utah to join the 30x30 initiative, which aims to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030. According to its website, the 30x30 initiative is a coalition of police leaders, researchers, and professional organizations who have joined together to advance the representation and experiences of women in policing agencies across the United States.

“Having a diverse agency is essential to us and is an important part of reforming policing,” said Jason Hinojosa, acting chief of University Police. “We want to promote all kinds of diversity, including gender representation among our staff and leadership to continue building better outcomes and interactions with our community. We will use this program and best practices shared by partners to develop further initiatives that address barriers to women’s advancement in our field.”

The 30x30 Initiative supporting research shows that women officers use less force, are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits, see better outcomes for crime victims, make fewer discretionary arrests and have other positive outcomes.

Currently, 10% of the U's Police Department are women, and women comprise 33% of the command staff. Nationally, women make up 12% of sworn officers and only 3% of police leadership, according to the 30x30 Initiative.

By signing the 30x30 pledge, the U Police Department committed to reporting on its efforts to identify and address the obstacles that women officers face in recruitment and throughout their careers. The program outlines specific data assessments and action steps for agencies to take to track progress and work toward the goal.

“Programs like this align with our vision and efforts to reflect the diverse and rich community we serve at the University of Utah,” said Interim Chief Safety Officer, Keith Squires. “We are committed to working to narrow the gap regarding gender disparities in the law enforcement field.”

After the Pac12 Chief's Conference in Colorado, police chiefs from higher education institutions committed to be part of the 30x30 initiative.

“This 30x30 pledge means we are actively working toward improving the representation and experiences of women officers,” said University of Colorado Boulder Chief of Police Doreen Jokerst. I applaud the University of Utah Police Department for signing the pledge and implementing strategies and solutions to eliminate barriers related to advancing women in policing.”

As of July 2021, a total of 10 higher education police departments have made the pledge.

During the first six months, pledging agencies focus on collecting baseline data and learning about women officers’ concerns, priorities and perspectives on culture, parity and opportunity within the department. They also commit to prioritizing practices to support women in the profession, such as ensuring there are designated lactation spaces, allowing nursing mothers flexibility in their schedules, ensuring all equipment for women officers is fit to their proportions, affirming zero tolerance for discriminatory practices or harassment, and prioritizing hiring and retention process that support women.

More information about the 30x30 program here.

A story of service at the U

Police officers on the University of Utah campus take their duties very seriously. They work hard to ensure the safety of the community, and enforce the rules and regulations put in place. They are also all humans who care for the needs of others and are compassionate to their plights. These two realities came into sharp focus one hot afternoon in June.

Silia Vaitai was selling cold water to families attending high school graduation ceremonies at the Jon M. Huntsman Center that day. She had brought her two young children along and was hoping to make extra money to help make ends meet. She did not know though that in order to sell on University property she needed a permit, which she didn’t have. Officers were called to remove her from the property.

“That day was really hot. I needed extra money, so I made a poster and bought some drinks to sell.” After finding she needed a permit, she appreciated how police officers approached her. “They were very polite; they even helped me with my stuff. Those officers changed my perspective of the police, and more than ever, I admire all of them not for the sponsorship, but because of their professionalism and willingness to help their community.”

The officers who responded not only treated Vaitai with respect but also reached out to help her with her financial problems. One responding officer offered her money, and another sent money via Venmo. Once back at the public safety building, they asked other officers to donate as well and were able to raise several hundred dollars to help her.

Before this encounter, Vaitai did not know about University Police, but she says she will never forget the experience. In response to the gift, she sent a thoughtful message to the department. In her writing, she explained that part of the money was used to catch up with bills, buy new shoes for the kids, and register for a permit to sell cold drinks legally.

Interim Chief Safety Officer Keith Squires said the actions of the officers are representative of the caring individuals of University Safety. “The officers involved did not seek acknowledgment for their compassionate actions, but I’m grateful that this kind recipient of their service sent her heartfelt thank you so that we became aware,” he said. “I’m proud of our officers and the entire team. They are regularly going the extra mile to help others, and it’s nice to see it highlighted from time to time.”