Tacoma police looking to increase force to 30% women by 2030

TACOMA, Wash. — There’s a push to get more women on the Tacoma police force.

Tacoma Police Department has signed onto a national initiative to get more women on the force, called “30 by 30.” That’s 30% of its sworn officers being women by 2030.

It likely comes as no surprise that just 48 of Tacoma’s sworn police officers are women. And even in racially-diverse Tacoma, the overwhelming majority are like Kate Tegler — they are white.

The woman working to change that is recruiting Officer Taylor Reeves, a 12-year-police veteran in her sixth year with Tacoma police.

Even though her grandfather was a police officer, Reeves didn’t consider police work until she took a criminal justice course in college.

“At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Reeves. “But I took the class and it was taught by a police officer. And then he welcomed people to come on a ride-along if they’re interested. I did. And when I did the ride-along, I was hooked. I loved it.”

What did she love? “Oh, just the adrenaline of it,” she said. “But, like you said, you could be doing nothing for a little bit, and all of a sudden you’re making a traffic stop. And it was a fun experience.”

But she is a definite minority here. Tacoma has 321 sworn police officers — 48 of them are women, comprising just 14%. And only eight Tacoma police officers are women of color.

Reeves was asked if she has been called names because she is a police officer.

“Oh yeah, of course,” she said. “Yeah, that’s been part of it.”

Reeves acknowledges she has faced criticism that her white counterparts likely never have. It was especially painful, she said, when she was a younger officer.

“I would definitely say I got more pushback from people of color than I did normal everyday citizens, not of color,” she said. “Oh, kinda saying like ‘you’re a traitor’ just for wearing uniform, stuff like that. I usually say ‘I’m serving my community.’ I say ‘I’m trying to make myself better. I’m trying to make my family better. This is why I picked this career.’ ”

The only stated numerical goal for Tacoma Police Department’s recruiting effort is 30% females on the force by the year 2030.  But Reeves says there is a larger goal to change the TPD’s culture. So, its recruitment efforts are not limited to women.

“No, we’re not,” said Reeves. “Just people from all different backgrounds, different ethnicities. Tacoma is very diverse altogether. And just whenever we show up to calls, we want people to feel comfortable speaking with officers, maybe speaking to an officer of color or different gender may help them feel more comfortable.”

And perhaps help them see that this is a job for any woman and anyone else who wants to serve this community.

Tacoma Police Department has plenty of openings. It wants to recruit 44 sworn officers.