Blending in at recruitment events is one of the few changes that King County Sheriff’s Office has made to represent the County’s welcoming atmosphere and boost recruitment for females into commissioned officer positions.
Court Protection Unit Sergeant Loi Dawkins trades in her full officer uniform for a polo shirt and cargo pants to attend recruitment events, a softer approach, she says, to entice career seekers to engage with recruitment staff.
“For some people, it makes them feel more comfortable with approaching us when they otherwise would be intimidated by a gun, badge and uniform,” Sgt. Dawkins said. “I have noticed a difference because some people think ‘I don’t know if I want to talk to a police officer,’ and then they realize they’ve been talking to a police officer all along; it allows for us to open up the dialogue and give them the idea that this is something they should look into.”
A mother of three, Sgt. Dawkins can relate to parents, specifically females that are reluctant to pursue a career as a police officer.
“One of the biggest challenges is convincing women that there is a place and need for them in policing overall, specifically in our department,” Sgt. Dawkins said. “Some of them express the challenges of the schedule. Single moms who have to deal with childcare issues, where work shifts are not conducive to that type of lifestyle, and others say ‘gosh, you know, I’ve never really thought about it until now,’” Sgt. Dawkins said.
In her capacity, Sgt. Dawkins oversees recruitment and plans all recruitment events which range from attending job fairs to public speaking opportunities to prescreening for backgrounds.
In the last year, the Sheriff’s Office recruiters have attended the Northwest Women’s Show and Women in Trades career fair. They have also attended the Women in Law Enforcement career fair in Bellevue for two consecutive years.
Since January 2017, the Sheriff’s Office has experienced a 46% increase of diversity in applicants including women. The Sheriff’s Office has also seen an influx of Lateral candidates from other departments. With the combined efforts, there are now over 80 females representing KCSO.