'It's time to start having open conversations': women in policing workshop hopes to break barriers

One Windsor police inspector is headed to Ottawa this week for a workshop hoping to advance women in policing.

About 125 officers from across the province will attend the workshop

Inspector Tammy Fryer with Windsor Police Service heads to Ottawa this week for a women in policing conference. (CBC)

One Windsor police inspector is headed to Ottawa this week for a workshop hoping to advance women in policing.

Insp. Tammy Fryer is one of the driving forces behind the workshop, which features guest speakers from Ottawa, Barrie, Kingston and the RCMP.

"It's time to start having open conversations and really get a true picture of what's going on with women in policing," said Fryer. She's been an officer for about 30 years.

"Policing has changed," said Fryer. "The biggest struggle I've had is to be taken seriously by male counterparts and superiors."

LISTEN Insp. Tammy Fryer chats with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette about the conference:

Inspector Tammy Fryer is at an international conference about women in policing and we ask her why equity is still an issue in the male dominated world of law enforcement. 7:41

Fryer said some of the men she's come into contact with have "antiquated notions" of gender roles, especially when it comes to policing.

The workshop looks to promote initiatives that remove equity barriers, hoping to give women in policing the opportunity to support and encourage each other. The group plans to discuss challenges in recruitment, promotion and retention. 

"When we're looking at all these buzzwords, women want to be treated equally," said Fryer. "It shouldn't be affected if they choose to be a mother. We want to be treated equally in respect to not having just one person who's a women in a unit. You should be able to do the job just like men do."

Insp. Tammy Fryer with Windsor Police Service said women want to be treated equally in the force — and it's not happening. (CBC)

Fryer said many years ago, once a woman was put in a specialized unit they knew it would be three years before another woman would be permitted in. 

"It may be that's just the way it is," said Fryer, acknowledging that women could want to just stay a constable for their entire career. She'd still like to see more women in authority roles and in special divisions.

"We need to get more of our female constables interested in becoming a sargeant."

She believes the more women see women in policing, the more women will want to join the force. Fryer said she might retire at the end of the year, but she knows at least four women who would be competing for her position. 

Windsor Police Service employs 82 female officers — out of 429. That's about 19 per cent, so Windsor is catching up to what Fryer said is a national average of 20 per cent.

"I see a lot of potential moving forward," said Fryer. "We need to try to be more inclusive and accept each other for who we are."

With files from Windsor Morning

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