Praise for first female officers

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Previous generations of women helped pave the way for future female officers, a senior Dunedin policewoman says.
‘‘If it wasn’t for those pioneering women the job that I enjoy today, and the organisation that I’m proud of, would look quite different,’’ Southern district operations manager Inspector Amelia Steel said.
Having women in the police force provided diversity, which helped the organisation connect with different people, she said.
‘‘When you have diverse staff you have different skill sets, different personalities and ways of communicating.’’
It is 75 years since women first joined the New Zealand police force and Insp Steel said the roles and expectations of female police officers had historically been quite different but it was now accepted women were capable of filling any position in the police force.
Women now comprise more than 30% of New Zealand Police staff.
As the role of police officers changed to involve more engagement with the community, female police officers could use their communication skills to deescalate situations, Insp Steel said.
Insp Steel is part of the Southern District Women’s Advisory Network, which addresses issues related to promoting, retaining and developing female staff in the organisation.
It is part of a national network.
The anniversary is being marked by a torch relay running from the northernmost to southernmost part of the country.
The relay began last Friday and police in Dunedin will receive the torch from officers in Middlemarch this Sunday.
The following day, the relay will depart from the Octagon, take in Baldwin St and the University of Otago before winding up back at the Dunedin Central Police Station.
Besides marking the significant anniversary of women in the New Zealand Police, Insp Steel said the relay would also serve as a chance to ‘‘showcase a wee bit of Dunedin’’.