The Texas Police Association is pushing for more women to join law enforcement. This comes after many agencies across the state are dealing with a shortage in officers, including in the Rio Grande Valley.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on average females make up 10 percent of the total number of officers at a department. It’s because of this they are looking to hire more.
Karen Hernandez is one of four female South Padre Island officers out of a fleet of 35.
“Ever since I was younger, I wanted to be in law enforcement. I wasn’t sure exactly what. I started with dispatch about five years ago,” she said.
Hernandez said there are aspects of the job that women can do that men can’t and vice versa. She said personal experience on the job has proven female officers are better at handling certain types of situations.
“Anything that has to do with females, they always feel more comfortable speaking to a female officer. I’ll give you an example, like sexual assaults. When it’s a female victim they don’t really want to talk to a male officer. They don’t feel as comfortable to tell them everything,” she said.
According to the U.S. Census, over half the population for the state of Texas is women.
With many law enforcement agencies having trouble hiring, they’re turning to women like Hernandez.
“Recently some other agencies have taken the helm on trying to put out social media blips to encourage women throughout the state to join police agencies,” South Padre Island Police Chief Randy Smith said.
Smith said having women on the team is an absolute must for a department.
“It behooves us to have females on the street because when you’re patting down another female it makes it easier. There is a liability issues to do a more thorough search for a female suspect,” he said.
Both Smith and Hernandez hope the push will bring more people to join the ranks regardless of gender.
South Padre Island currently has a few spots open for officers. They hope to fill them before summer.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to law enforcement agencies across the Valley to see their female to male ratio.
In Weslaco, out of the 75 active officers, five are female. In Harlingen they have around 130 officers with nine being female. And San Benito has four women on the force out of 36 officers.