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More Michigan Women Explore Law Enforcement Careers

PHOTO: Michigan is one of the only states in the nation to have a female director of its police agency, and is currently seeking more women to join the ranks of the MSP. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.
PHOTO: Michigan is one of the only states in the nation to have a female director of its police agency, and is currently seeking more women to join the ranks of the MSP. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.
April 21, 2015

TROY, Mich. - They've found "a few good women," as the saying goes – and Michigan State Police (MSP) say they're looking for even more as they continue to work to increase the number of women and people of color in their ranks.

Trooper Marjorie Richardson has been with the MSP for 26 years, and says women now make up about 10 percent of the force, slightly below the national average. But she adds the numbers are beginning to inch up as more women realize police work is not wholly about brute strength.

"Women can hold authority in a manner without it having it come off like a standoff," she says. "Whatever we're called to, we come in to take whatever is going on and immediately bring it down to communication."

The Michigan State Police holds a recruitment day at the Troy Community Center on Saturday. More information is online at Michigan.gov.

In the past, trooper candidates needed to be between the ages of 21 and 35, but the MSP no longer has a maximum age for applicants. Richardson, who raised three kids while serving on the force, says she believes life experience is a good thing for a cop to have.

"Speaking for myself, there's a certain amount of maturity I gained, and insight and experience that I could apply, after having my kids and dealing with them," she says. "Everything you do is something you can bring to this work."

Now more than ever, Richardson says she's convinced a police force needs to reflect the community it serves.

"They need to find you capable. They want to see people with integrity they can trust, respect," she says. "They have to feel that you understand them, because if they feel you understand them, they have hope that you can help them."

While Michigan lags behind the national average in the number of female state troopers, Colonel Kriste Etue became the department's first female director when she was appointed to the post in 2011.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI