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Female KCPD officers share experiences amid national police staffing shortage

Female officers with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department
Posted at 6:54 PM, Mar 22, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, is among multiple cities across the country experiencing a staffing shortage in police departments.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department says at 1,100 officers, it’s down by 300 officers, which is almost double the number of female officers in the department now.

KCPD Ofc. Kristin Bartch isn’t just filling big shoes, but a big void.

Nationally, less than 13 percent of police officers are women, but here in Kansas City, that number is slightly higher at 15 percent.

Bartch comes from a long line of family members who have served with KCPD, including her grandfather, Floyd Bartch, who is a former KCPD Chief of Police.

“Just knowing that they were here doing these things and making a huge impact, it’s just kinda what drives me everyday,” Bartch said.

KCPD is highly encouraging women to apply and says the biggest barriers it’s seen involves things like parenting and preconceived notions about what the job is like for a woman.

“I have a lot of young women that come to me specifically as a recruiter because I am a female,” said Ofc. Amber Hoffman, the law enforcement applicant coordinator and recruiter for KCPD. “Because they have some of those questions about family and what it’s like to be a woman and what the physical requirements are, are they attainable and all those things.”

Hoffman says female officers can often effectively de-escalate conflict and are more trusting for female victims.

"We need more of them, right. And so we’re still working towards our 30 for 30 initiative, which is to have 30 percent female by 2030," Hoffman said.

Studies show that other attributes, like interpersonal communication skills and trustworthiness, are expected from female officers.

After recruitment comes the police academy, which is where McKenzie Kilbury graduates from in May.

“When we first started, there were five girls, we’ve lost four of them,” Kilbury said. “So I am the last one in my class right now.”

What helps is knowing what hasn’t changed.

“All of the instructors at the academy expect equal out of all of us,” Kilbury said.

Her advice to other women pursuing this career is to let your passion drive you no matter what.

“Be prepared,” Kilbury said. “The boys, some of them, they won’t always treat you the same. They will kind of treat you like you’re weaker. Don’t show them that you’re weak. Be strong, be loud, be proud.”