NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been nearly a year since the Metro Nashville Police Department pledged to recruit 30% more female officers by 2030, and the agency is inching closer to that goal.

The 30×30 initiative is a nationwide effort to increase the representation of women in policing and to ensure police department’s policies and culture support female officers’ success in their careers.

Maureen McGough, a daughter of a police officer and the chief of strategic initiatives for the Policing Project at NYU law, began working with female law enforcement leaders in 2018 to launch 30×30 in March 2021.

Since then, nearly 250 local, state, and federal agencies have made the pledge, including the Metro Nashville Police Department.

Just 12% of police officers nationwide are female, and in Nashville it’s even less at 11%.

“The underrepresentation of women, it’s not just a gender equity issue, it really does contribute to some public safety crises around this country,” McGough said.

According to research, the community perceives women officers as more compassionate and trustworthy. In addition, female officers are less likely to use excessive force, are less likely to perform searches during traffic stops, but are more likely to find contraband when they do, and are less likely to be named in community complaints and lawsuits compared to their male counterparts.

“The list goes on, and I think the reality is if there was a training out there that offered all of those behavioral outcomes, every department in the country would be clamoring to implement that training, but instead we’re just talking about thinking differently about who gets to police and what we value in the profession,” McGough said.

McGough told News 2 many police departments’ recruiting efforts don’t accurately describe what working for the department is like or what qualities are required to successfully do the job.

“A lot of departments tend to focus recruitment campaigns on military veterans and criminal justice majors, and those are important applicant pools, but when you start thinking about what the job of policing entails and the knowledge and abilities I just described, you start thinking differently about who you talk to,” McGough said.

Since Metro implemented the 30×30 initiative in March 2022, the department has put a greater emphasis on recruiting techniques that show it values officers with critical thinking skills and empathy. MNPD also stopped using the military’s standards for health and fitness when determining if a potential recruit should qualify for the police academy.

| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County

Out of the 95 current recruits in the academy, 25.26% are women. Right now, 11.36% of Metro’s sworn personnel are female.

To learn more about 30×30, click here.