Nine Saanich Police (SPD) constables patrolled the municipality’s streets Sunday night, and all nine were women, according to the police department.
“SPD is proud to deploy all female Constables tonight in Saanich,” Saanich police said when captioning a photo of the constables on X, also known as Twitter, around 9:30 p.m. Nov. 12.
The department had previously said it was on track to surpass the 30×30 Initiative, which aims to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30 per cent by 2030.
“Despite reaching this goal, we continue to commit to increasing representation of women in all ranks of the department,” Saanich police said in a 2022 report, “and improving the experiences of all gender-diverse employees through policies, practices, and changes in organizational culture.”
In March 2022, the department released a video on YouTube showcasing female police officers. The following May, it joined the 30×30 Initiative by signing the 30×30 pledge, saying it was “committed to advance women in policing and support the success of women officers in all ranks.”
Numerous police agencies across the United States and Canada have signed the pledge, and Saanich Police is the only one in Greater Victoria listed on the initiative’s website.
Canada-wide survey seeking feedback ‘to bridge information gap’
The Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS), in partnership with Ontario Tech University and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, says it’s conducting a study called “Canadian Women in Policing: A National Exploration of Women Officers’ Experiences.”
In a Nov. 7 release, DRPS said the study, which is a survey, “aims to bridge the information gap concerning the challenges and opportunities faced by women in law enforcement in Canada and shed light on the pivotal importance of gender equity within Canadian police services.”
Organizers launched the survey on Nov. 9, will gather responses until March 2024 “and then by the summer of 2024, be in a position to start reporting some of the results,” said Vidal Chavannes, director of strategy research and organizational performance with DRPS.
Feedback will then be shared with police agencies across Canada, through conferences, presentations and publications “wherever possible,” Chavannes told CHEK News Monday.
“We want to share it far and wide,” he noted.
“Because the goal is to address the conditions that face women in policing so that we can start to improve in terms of recruiting and so that we can start to improve in terms of the experiences that those individuals have within the various police services that they’re a part of.”
In October, Saanich Police, along with police departments in Central Saanich, Oak Bay and Victoria/Esquimalt, were named in a civil suit alleging gender-based discrimination and harassment in all 13 of B.C.’s municipal detachments.
So Chavannes is encouraging female police in Canada to participate in the new survey.
He says the goal “is to get the survey out far and wide to as many women police individuals as we can. And right now, the research is focused on sworn women in policing. At some point in time, later on, we could extend the work to civilian women in policing.”
Chavannes points to 2021 data indicating around 22 per cent of the country’s sworn officers are female.
“And one of the things that we found when we dug into the literature was that there was a significant amount of writing about women’s experiences in law enforcement in other jurisdictions, so in the United States in the U.K., but there was very little information about the experiences of women in policing in Canada,” he added.
“And so that was the impetus for us getting involved in the first place.”
— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) November 13, 2023