John Jay College’s Second Annual Women in Law Enforcement Symposium has been named the recipient of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) Community Engagement Award by the National Justice Month Committee of the ACJS. The award recognizes the symposium’s ability to bring together members of academia, the criminal justice field and law enforcement to recognize, highlight and celebrate the central role that female police officers play in the field and in our communities.
The award-winning event was proudly organized by Diego Redondo and Janet Winter of John Jay’s Department of Public Safety, in partnership with the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “At John Jay, we strive to uplift everyone in our community and with the symposium, we wanted to do something to really empower women,” says Winter, executive assistant to the director of public safety. “We were so pleased to partner with the New York office of the FBI and members of our community to present this event. We were able to spotlight the work of incredibly talented women, have deep and meaningful conversations about law enforcement, and hopefully encourage women to join the field.
Redondo, director of public safety and risk management, explains in more detail the development of the annual event. “We wanted to create an event that would provide a service to our local law enforcement community as well as the John Jay College community,” he says. “We wanted to have the space to talk about different aspects of law enforcement with women who work, have an interest in, or research the field of law enforcement.”
“At John Jay, we strive to uplift everyone in our community and with the symposium we wanted to do something to really empower women.” —Janet Winter
What does winning the Academy of Criminal Justice Services Community Engagement Award mean for the Department of Public Safety?
JW: This is a significant recognition and one that we certainly appreciate from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The Women in Law Enforcement Symposium is an event of which we are extremely proud. We really wanted to provide a service to our community and we had tremendous support in organizing the 2019 event. Many people took an interest in the topic and participated in the event, including several members of our John Jay community.
DR: We were also flattered to learn that Dr. Rosemary Barberet, Director of the International Criminal Justice Major and Professor of Sociology, had proposed the event for an award. I can’t stress enough how important it is for women who are interested in the field of law enforcement to get into it. My goal is always to help people feel like they can achieve the things they want to achieve and be exposed to the things they want to be exposed to. This way they can make good life decisions, have opportunities and network. This symposium gives many people (professional police officers, faculty, staff and students) interested in the same field the opportunity to come together and engage. It’s really exciting for me.
What are some of the biggest challenges women in law enforcement currently face?
JW: At the 2019 symposium, many women discussed the difference in treatment they receive compared to their male counterparts. A woman may stop and wonder if she is qualified, a man will jump right in, never questioning her qualifications. Since the law enforcement community is male dominated, it may seem safer for men to take risks. Women present at the symposium also mentioned the lack of on-the-job mentoring. It’s not because women in higher positions in the field don’t offer mentorship, rather it’s because there aren’t many female mentors available. But seeing more women in leadership positions across the country is truly encouraging and will hopefully increase mentoring opportunities.
“Everything we do at John Jay to empower women, people of color, people of different abilities and backgrounds is going to be helpful in breaking down barriers and overcoming challenges.” —Diego Redondo
Do you think a John Jay education and symposium can alleviate some of the challenges faced by women in law enforcement?
DR: I think everything we do at John Jay to empower women, people of color, people of different abilities and backgrounds is going to be helpful in breaking down barriers and overcoming challenges. Bringing people together to share their strengths, their stories and see the successes of others like them is empowering. With the symposium, we look at some of the challenges women face and discuss what agencies can do to address these challenges.
Where do you hope to see women in law enforcement in the future, and what do women, agencies, and policymakers need to do to make that hope a reality?
DR: My ultimate hope for the future is that an event like the Women in Law Enforcement Symposium will be adopted because women are appropriately represented in the field. To a large extent, women are already doing what they need to do. They defend their interests and seek the positions they want, and they must continue to do so. Agencies and companies must adapt. They must ensure that they are diligent in ensuring that the job selection process is based on the appropriate criteria and that they have professional development opportunities available to all so that everyone has a chance to thrive in their career. Agencies are beginning to re-examine the way they do business and find better ways to ensure career advancement for everyone.
“If there is an opportunity to gain more knowledge from other women in law enforcement, always go for it.” —Janet Winter
What advice do you have for women in our community who want to work in law enforcement?
JW: Take advantage of all available learning opportunities and help others take advantage of these opportunities as well. When we were hosting this symposium, Diego made sure our own officers could change their schedules and attend the event themselves. We wanted to make sure our team had the chance to learn, network and grow through this experience. Knowing that there were women in the athletics department who had an interest in law enforcement, we specifically reached out to them. If there is an opportunity to gain more knowledge from other women in law enforcement, always go for it.