More women rising in law enforcement ranks

Lenexa PD is trying to inspire women to join force

LENEXA, Kan. - We don’t see many women in law enforcement today, but for those who are on the force, they’re rising through the ranks quicker than ever before.

The women in blue at the Lenexa Police Department said they’re working to inspire the next generation.

Over the last several years, the growth of women in policing has progressed slowly.

"Obviously this is a male dominated profession," said Major Dawn Layman with the Lenexa Police Department. 

Men make up more than 80 percent of the force.

"Right now, women only make up 13 percent of all law enforcement officers across the country," said Layman. 

That number, showing no significant gains in years, could be discouraging for women in the field.

"We still have departments across the country that don't have any female representation," said Layman. 

Instead, they’re determined to rise to the top.

"In the last couple years, we've actually seen some more movement of women attaining top ranking positions within law enforcement," said Layman. 

Still, making up only 1 - 2 percent of top positions across the country, Layman said she’s proud to see more women in higher positions being replaced by women in the field. Something she feels is important to get more women interested in a law enforcement career.

"I have to see somebody in a chief's position or a command position to know that I can attain that," said Layman. 

It was Layman’s sophomore year of college that she got into a fender bender and a female officer arrived on scene, leading her to switch lanes on her career path.

"The light bulb clicked off and I said, ‘Oh I can do that.’ That's what my dad was doing, but I never correlated those two things together," said Layman. 

With fewer women than men on the force, they’re often times faced with challenges.

"You're put under the microscope. You tend to have to prove yourself twice as much as your male counterparts do because you're different," said Captain Diana Mendoza with the Lenexa Police Department. 

"Being one of the guys so to speak, sometimes that can be more challenging," said Officer Megan Larson with the Lenexa Police Department. 

Breaking that stereotype is one obstacle they’re faced with.

"I think people have a mental picture of what a police officer should be and sometimes, that's not correct," said Mendoza. 

Now, they’re serving as role models for many young girls.

"So, I can show those girls that hey, this is a thing. We can all do this, and I think starting at that young age really gets them involved," said Larson. 

Right now, 10 percent of women make up the Lenexa Police Department. They are currently hiring and looking to make their force even more diverse. 

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