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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Police organizational culture, both as an institution and in the values of individual officers, has focused on masculine and patriarchal functions, neglecting the needs of policewomen in the field (Shelley et al., 2011). Police officers who are women are often assessed on how well they can perform against their male counterparts (Agocs, 2015). Childcare—when agencies consider it at all—is often seen as solely a concern of women, and as a reason to limit their hiring, promotion, and retention. In addition, opportunities afforded to men, such as overtime, particular shift schedules, holiday benefits, or specialized work assignments, aren’t always provided to women because of childcare issues (Agocs, 2015). Organizational and operational shifts in policing are necessary to support police mothers and allow them to pursue their careers and manage their roles as both police and parents.
Four years ago, Anne Bosanac knew that childcare for the San Diego (California) Police Department (SDPD) needed an overhaul. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the San Diego Police Officers Association and is co-founder of Emissary Relations. At that time, childcare was inaccessible and expensive, and childcare workers were paid very little. It was not a sustainable model, especially for police officers on a shift work schedule. Anne’s goals were simple: make childcare accessible and affordable for officers and increase pay for childcare employees.
Four years later, she will see her vision come to life: All her goals have been achieved. A childcare center has been customized for the SDPD. It will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and for emergency childcare to accommodate different shifts. It will also be open holidays. The center will charge 50 percent less than market rate, and employees will be paid 15 percent above market rate.
How is this possible? This arrangement has been funded through public and private partnerships: San Diego is partnering with KinderCare, a well-known childcare provider in the area. In addition, funds will come from both the government and private philanthropists. Anne’s hard work has paid off and is now helping other departments across the county formulate customized plans for their departments.
At a time when the SDPD is losing three to four officers per month and is short-staffed over by more than 200, this childcare center has the potential to be both a retaining and recruiting incentive. Placing a customized childcare center on the campus of the police department not only provides childcare solutions, but also sends the message that the department cares about officers and their family’s needs.
Agocs, T., D. Langan, and C.B. Sanders. 2015. "Police mothers at home: Police work and danger-protection parenting practices." Gender & Society 29(2), 265–289.
Shelley, Tara, Melissa Morabito, and Jennifer Tobin-Gurley. 2011. "Gendered institutions and gender roles: Understanding the experiences of women in policing." Criminal Justice Studies 24:351–67.
Social Science Analyst
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