Amidst increasing scrutiny of diversity among peace officers, the senate today passed a bill sponsored by Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) aimed at upping the number of women serving in police departments across Washington state.

“Flexible work schedules can increase retention rates among women and increase the gender diversity of our fine officers here in Washington state,” said Lovick. SB 5424 would enable, but not require, law enforcement agencies in Washington to adopt policies allowing flexible work schedules for officers.

Sue Rahr, a retired former King County Sheriff who worked alongside Lovick on SB 5424, added, “During the course of my 43 years in the law enforcement profession, I watched many fellow female officers go from being excellent employees to problem employees due to the stresses of managing childcare and full-time shift work. Many simply left the profession. Some continued to be problem employees for the remainder of their careers. The rest of us suffered in silence because we needed the paycheck. So, we sacrificed the quality of both our professional work and our parenting responsibilities to make it work. Wouldn’t it be something if we could stop this madness?”

“Women are too often unfairly burdened with the choice between careers and family,” said Lovick. “This bill gives us the opportunity to increase diversity and equity in the field and I have been absolutely amazed by the amount of support we have received.”

Currently, women make up only 12% of sworn officers and 3% of police leadership in the U.S. Many say this under-representation of women in policing undermines public safety.

SB 5424 now moves to the House for consideration.