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OUR VIEW: Bloomington police are thinking forward

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The Bloomington Police Department has taken a noteworthy step in addressing an alarming lack of women on the police force.

They've signed on to the 30×30 Initiative, a coalition of various police officials, professional groups and researchers across America looking to have law enforcement be comprised of at least 30% female by 2030.

Agencies including the New York City, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Denver police departments are taking part. So have Rantoul, Rockford, University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University.

It's an ambitious goal. Nationally, women make up about 12% of law enforcement. Of the Bloomington force, it's 7%.

“We will be deliberate and intentional over the next decade in shaping our department's culture, hiring practices, promotional testing, and a mentorship program to help all officers' equal chance to succeed," said Bloomington police Chief Jamal Simington.

Addressing this shortcoming reflects a forward-thinking attitude by the department, city leadership and Simington, who became chief in August.

Recruitment of new police officers has been notoriously difficult for years. The job is difficult, dangerous and stressful, with shifting expectations and pressures.

This goal adds another layer to the process, but it's an important one. Our police departments must reflect the citizenry — by gender, race, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. We will be a better, stronger community because of it.

Bloomington is not alone in having too few women in its police ranks. This focus will help change that.

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