Seattle recently hired its First Woman police chief, Kathleen O’Toole. She steps into a quagmire as the police department has been investigated by the Justice Department and placed under a federal consent decree for use of excessive force and biased policing. A group of officers filed suit to stop the agreements reached between the city and Justice Department, but they did not hire a lawyer, so one can only surmise that this bluster is simply an attempt to intimidate the new chief.
Previously Kathleen O’Toole was the First Woman police commissioner of Boston, serving that city from 2004 to 2006. Given her groundbreaking work, it is probably not surprising that there are other First Women in the Boston Police Department. The commander of the Police Academy there is Officer Allison Gunther, the First Woman to hold that post. The academy recently graduated a class that experienced another first. The class president and vice president, for the first time, were both women.
Perhaps Kathleen O’Toole’s influence here might lead to a stronger female presence in law enforcement. There is an adage from the 1970’s that proclaims a woman must be “twice as good as a man to go half as far.” I suspect Kathleen O’Toole is twice as good as a man and she has already gone more than half as far.