The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department recently installed a female as their new police chief. This is part of a trend across the United States of more women working in law enforcement. The most recent statistics released by the United States Bureau of Justice states that 16 percent of police officers in large cities nationwide are women - an increase of four percent. VOA Urdu TV's Imran Sidiqui recently spoke to one female police officer in Washington about her job and the role of the police in the United States. Robert Raffaele narrates.
It is the beginning of another day for the First District's police officers of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC.
Diane Groomes, the First District's Commander, is leading the meeting. She says police officers need to be part of the community in order to be effective.
"The police do not come in as an army and invade the citizens and tell them what they are going to do, and ‘You had better stay in your house.' We have now partnered with the community, they’re our eyes and ears, because we are not here 24 hours a day on the beat.” she says.” So, we need citizens to give us good information, come to meetings so we can inform [them of] what kind of crime patterns there are and basically work together to reduce crime."
But sometimes there can be tension between police officers and the local community. There have been several recent controversies over police shootings in the country.
Commander Groomes says the police must act in a professional manner to receive the respect of the community it polices. "You cannot have community policing, nor can you have the trust of the community if you have officers out here beating people up, cussing people out [using profanity], how will we ever be able to form a relationship or be able to talk to one another, which is our number one goal, if we act that way?"
Groomes also says the increase in female police officers can help develop relationships with the community.
“I think it is very important to have women in police work. We are a different face. Also, the population of women in this country is huge. I think we are great role models for other girls to join this field. It's a very satisfying job," she says.
Potential police officers must go through a training course before they are hired. Commander Groomes believes any potential police officer needs to posses a number of skills.
"You definitely want to have a good heart, where you want to help others, because that is what this job is about.” says Groomes. “If you are looking to go into the field you have to have good writing skills, good communication skills so you can deal with other people.
Police work is a very dangerous profession. But Commander Groomes says the work is very satisfying – especially when she catches the criminal.