The percentage of women officers in Houston matches about the national average of women in law enforcement. HPD Executive Assistant Chief Martha Montalvo says the numbers have grown since she became an officer 29 years ago.
“They come with a lot more education and a lot more experience. When I see them, I tell the other ranking officers, is among that group is our replacement. So we have to make sure that we pave the way and give them the information they need.”
Women officers have more opportunities for their law enforcement careers today. But Montalvo says many officers often forget to plan their careers once they enter the department. Officer Fredtrena Adams agrees. When she joined the department 23 years ago, the only choices for women were juvenile division or dispatch. Since then the doors have opened to all aspects of police work from patrol to the top brass.
“You have women that work the hostage negotiation team with SWAT. You never would have a woman in those types of positions. You have women working with the helicopter division where that was not something when I first came on that women could do.”
Both women hope that others will continue to be drawn to careers in law enforcement. Sergeant Diana Poor decided to join 14 years ago after going on a ride-along with a friend in another department.
“The biggest thing in police work is communication. I mean if you can learn to communicate, you’re ten steps ahead of everybody, being male or female or anything like that.”
Capella Tucker, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.