MPD reaches goal to make women 30 percent of recruit class


MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Police Department continues to be a national leader when it comes to hiring and retaining women.

Three years ago, the department became one of the first agencies to pledge its support to the 30x30 Initiative, which looks to advance the representation and experiences of women in policing. The movement wants to increase the number of women in police recruit classes to 30 percent by 2030.

MPD achieved this with its 2023 Academy class, in which women made up 35 percent of the recruits.

“I’m proud our department stands behind its word. We don’t just say the right things to get people in the door, but we demonstrate that women are an important part of the organization,” said Training and Recruitment Sgt. Theresa Magyera.

Women make up 12 percent of law enforcement officers in the country and 3 percent of police leadership. MPD surpasses the national average with women currently making up 28 percent of the department.

Research has shown women officers use less force and less excessive force; are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits and are perceived by community members as being more honest and compassionate.  The 30x30 Initiative has put together a research guide on the “why” behind advancing women in policing as well as the “how."

Small Changes, Big Impact

For years, female officers had to adapt to equipment and training that was designed for men. MPD has made small changes over the years to create a more diverse police force.

Starting with the application process, the training team helps people who fail the physical test. They will give these applicants specific exercises to work on and a second chance at passing.

Female instructors are part of the department’s built-in Academy. MPD has tripled its number of women who are state-certified Defense and Arrest Tactics instructors. These instructors can show female recruits how to safely detain people who are larger than them. There are also several female firearm instructors on the training team.

“When women see other women in positions of authority or taking a primary role as an instructor, they can see the possibilities of leadership opportunities or ways to be successful in a male-dominated profession,” Sgt. Magyera said.

Officers can also wear load-bearing vests instead of a belt full of equipment around their waist.

If women choose to start a family, pregnant officers can be assigned to non-hazardous duty. MPD also offers paid parental leave, accommodations for nursing mothers and flexible options for returning to work.

“We hire people from different backgrounds. Many of the women we hire can see themselves doing this job. Whether they are a college graduate, a young mother or a woman returning to the workplace, each of them can relate to a veteran officer we have on the department,” Sgt. Magyera said.

What’s Next

MPD will continue to support and work toward the goals of the 30x30 Initiative.

The next Academy class starts in May. In that class, 7 of the 32 recruits are women. 

MPD is currently enrolling its 2025 Academy Class. If interested, please connect with us by visiting our application website.

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