Windsor Police Service wants to be 50% female, says chief

Data compiled by Statistics Canada shows only 15.9 per cent of Windsor police were women in 2017. But Sgt. Steve Betteridge said as of February that number is closer to 18 per cent.

Pam Mizuno is the highest-ranking woman in WPS history after being appointed deputy chief

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick says the service is looking for creative ways to recruit more female officers. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The Windsor Police Service wants to be 50 per cent female, but the chief acknowledges parity probably won't be reached in his lifetime.

Data compiled by Statistics Canada showed 15.9 per cent of Windsor police were women in 2017. But Sgt. Steve Betteridge said as of February, that number is closer to 18 per cent.

The numbers have come under scrutiny as the service moved to recognize Superintendent Pam Mizuno as the highest-ranking woman in WPS history Wednesday during a ceremony where she will officially be promoted to Deputy Chief, along with Inspector Brad Hill. 

Brad Hill, left, has a 33-year history with the Windsor Police Service was named as one of the new deupty chiefs on the force. Pam Mizuno, right, was the highest-ranking female officer on the force as a superintendent. She will keep that title as new deputy chief. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Chief Al Frederick described the promotion as a "huge step" that will help attract female applicants and show them they will be recognized for their accomplishments.

He pointed to the service's past as the reason the number of women is still low, and said WPS is working hard to change with creative recruitment strategies, including female-only fitness tests.

"I can't change the percentage of females who were hired 20 or 25 years ago, but those percentages are still with us," he said. 

"Our target is 50 per cent. There's no doubt about that. I think that's the target that has to be pursued. That's representative of our community."

No 'old boys club'

During an interview with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette, Mizuno said it was intimidating when she started with the service because it was dominated by men.

"I felt I had to prove myself," she explained, but added she believes policing in Windsor has become more welcoming to women in recent years.

The Windsor Police Service has hired two new deputy chiefs, one of them is the first woman to hold such a prominent position on the force. We speak with new Deputy Chief Pam Mizuno and Chief of Police Al Frederick about how to address the gender gap. 10:17

"I think some of the attributes of females are valued … much more in our police service and across Ontario," Mizuno said.  "I don't think an old boys club exists in the Windsor Police Service today."

She added one of her priorities is to make sure she's available as a mentor for other women with the WPS.

"I think it's a huge responsibility to be a role model for the women within our service, as well as any women in our community who aspire to be police officers."

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