In college, Alexis Junker wasn’t sure whether she’d make it as a police officer, a position predominately held by men.
But her confidence grew with each step she took toward the profession, including spending nine months as a Community Service Officer at the Metro Transit Police Department.
In 2019, she was sworn in alongside several other women she now considers lifelong friends.
“As a female, you don’t ever want to think you’ve got to prove yourself and it was definitely intimidating starting out, thinking I’d have to match up or be better than the guys for them to have confidence in me,” Junker said. “But I’ve never been anything but uplifted this entire time.”
Today, Junker is an overnight patrol officer with ambitions of becoming more involved in training the department’s newest officers. She is, as she’d say to her peers, TFL, or Transit For Life.
Stories like these are less common than police departments would like. Nationally, less than 13% of officers are female.
To support industry efforts to overcome real and perceived barriers that keep women from entering the field, the Metro Transit Police Department recently signed onto the 30x30 Initiative.
Agencies that take the 30x30 pledge commit to boosting their female ranks through inclusive recruitment, hiring and retention strategies. Collectively, the goal is to have women represent 30% of police recruits by 2030.
The Metro Transit Police Department is already ahead of the pack: Nearly a quarter of the department’s police officers identify as women. Women also lead the department’s investigations unit, Homeless Action Team and head up recruitment and training efforts.
“Our female officers bring unique skills and perspectives and play a key role in making sure all our riders feel safe and welcome onboard,” Police Chief Ernest Morales III said. “Joining the 30x30 Initiative recognizes the value of their contributions and the importance of doing even more to support women in our department going forward.”
Among those hoping to inspire other women is Hela Maurer, who studied criminal justice and served as a detention deputy before becoming a Metro Transit police officer in 2019.
Maurer is one of three female officers who serve on the department’s Homeless Action Team and is believed to be the only female Ethiopian police officer in Minnesota. “My hope is to give the younger generation knowledge that it is possible to pursue their passion,” she said.
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