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Little Rock women breaking barriers, setting new standard for LRPD

More women in policing continues to be a topic of discussion on top of cries for police reform.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — More women in policing continues to be a topic of discussion on top of cries for police reform.

Departments across the country admit there's a crucial need for more female officers on the force. In Little Rock, the newest assistant police chief is breaking barriers and making a path for the future of females.

All eyes are on Assistant Police Chief Crystal Young-Haskins as she makes history. She has served on the Little Rock Police force for 15 years and is the department’s first African-American woman to hold this position and is now leading the charge in the department’s recruiting efforts.

“We currently have 99 sworn women in the organization. That equates to about 17% of our entire sworn force,” Young-Haskins explained.

There’s a national push happening for agencies to have at least 30% of their force staffed by women by 2030. The 30x30 Initiative is a coalition of organizations working together to advance the representation and experiences of women.

We met the ladies of the Little Rock Police Department at Central High School where they were working on a recruiting effort. The department is hoping to add more women to their force, as January 2022 will mark the department’s centennial recruitment class.

“I hired on in 1994 and during those times, there weren’t that many females at all. Probably was 20,” Sergeant Allison Walton said.

She, alongside Sergeant Courtney Bewley and Sergeant Natalie Ball, are a part of the department’s only all-female sergeant-led crew.

“I don’t think we noticed until Chief Haskins pointed it out,” Sergeant Natalie Ball said. The trio, packing more than 41 years of combined service, has seen a lot over the years.

“I think we have a long way to go as far as making women look at this as a career choice that is open to them even though there aren’t as many of us,” Bewley said.

There’s been tremendous growth when it comes to the hiring of minorities and women within the department and Young-Haskins doesn’t want it to stop here.

“We want to be a part of that wave to bring more women into our ranks and then to have them progress through their career so they’re sitting at the executive leadership tables and making decisions,” she said.

The department is looking for change agents in the community. If you’re interested in joining the Little Rock Police Department, visit buildabetterblue.org for more information on applying.