Wednesday, April 6, 2022
*** [Karen] Wrigley, 35, is one of a slew of female officers hired over the past year and a half in this suburb south of Omaha, part of a deliberate strategy by Police Chief Ken Clary to reduce the likelihood of misconduct and excess violence on the force.
[Police Chief Ken] Clary, a former Iowa state trooper, believes the research and his own experience, both of which tell him diversity makes for better policing and decreases the use of force against civilians, especially those who are Black. He’s rewritten the department’s rule book and promoted an officer to become head of recruiting, with an eye toward adding more women and police officers of color and making sure they stick around.
It’s too early to see significant changes in data generated by the 103-officer department. But officers say the personnel efforts have helped usher in a culture shift, which experts say is the key to long-lasting change.***
Bellevue, the third-largest city in Nebraska, is experiencing “the complete opposite of what everybody else is dealing with,” Maguire said. “I don’t know exactly how Chief Clary is doing it. But whatever magic wand he’s been able to use down there, I would suspect that a bunch of other departments are going to try.”***
As a captain for the Iowa State Patrol seven years ago, Clary hadn’t given much thought to the dearth of women in policing (nationwide, about 7 percent of state troopers are female). He did notice that the two women under his command drew citizen complaints far less than many of their male peers.***
Clary struck up friendships with Ivonne Roman, a Newark police officer who would go on to be a finalist for New York City police chief earlier this year, and Maureen McGough, an attorney who is chief of staff for the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law. Roman shared with Clary many of the obstacles she faced rising through the ranks in Newark. In a later conversation over lunch, Clary shared with McGough a dawning realization.
“He looked at me and, out of nowhere, he said, ‘Mo', we have got to figure out how to get the toxic masculinity out of policing,’ ” she recalled. “And it was just like this moment of, ‘who are you and how do I support you?’ ”
Clary was the first police chief to join the 30x30 Initiative, launched by McGough, Roman and others a year ago to push police departments to make their rosters at least 30 percent female by 2030. To date, about 150 jurisdictions have signed on, including New York City and, this month, D.C.