Oklahoma's Own In Focus: Women On The Rise Among Tulsa Police Department Cadets

Tulsa Police Department is welcoming a growing number of women police officers, sitting just above the national average. News on 6’s Lori Fullbright rode along with a rookie officer and talked to a veteran officer about the good and the bad of being a woman in a police uniform in Tulsa.

Friday, December 15th 2023, 6:24 pm

A new group of 17 cadets graduated from the Tulsa Police Department's academy on Friday and what makes this class a bit unusual, is six of them are women.

That's 35 percent. Recruiting and keeping women police officers has been a challenge for departments all across the country, but, TPD said it's doing a better job of finding good candidates and making them feel welcome on the job.

The national average for city and county departments in the US is 13 percent of women officers on the force. Tulsa is slightly above the national average Friday's graduation is helping with that. A coalition of officers across the nation has started the 30-by-30 Initiative and it hopes it can get departments to be 30 percent women officers by the year 2030.

News On 6’s Lori Fullbright rode along with a rookie officer and talked to a veteran officer about the good and the bad of being a woman in a police uniform in Tulsa.

Karla Perez worked at a hair salon, a restaurant, and even cleaned houses before she decided she wanted a career that wouldn't be the same every day. She wanted to make a difference and that's when she applied to the Tulsa Police Academy and now, she has three years on the job.

"There have been days you go from a simple stolen vehicle call to the next thing you know, shots fired or a stabbing and you respond as quickly as possible," says Officer Karla Perez.

Karla was recently among the first half dozen officers on the scene of a possible active shooter call at a Tulsa middle school, who helped clear the building. It didn't turn out to be a shooter, but, Karla says she was ready.

Related Story: No Suspicious Devices Found After Bomb Threat Reported At Tulsa School, Police Say

"There have been situations where I've been like, this is not pretty, but, this is my job, my profession and I'm going to do what I have to help and mentally prepare myself for the worst," says Perez.

She likes the work but says some people still don't respond well to seeing a woman officer arrive.

"Sometimes you get those that are like, uh-oh, a policewoman, they're meaner than males. You get others like, she can't do anything, won't do anything. It's a little bit of both," says Perez.

Chief Wendell Franklin says he believes his department has done a much better job of making sure women officers feel welcome in the department and a veteran we talked to says she's seen an improvement.

"We've changed a lot through our department, now from when I first came on 10 years ago in how women are respected or communicated with on the department between co-workers. Now, it's a much better relationship, more respect," says Sgt. Angela Emberton.

Angela was in college when she met some Tulsa officers and decided to do a ride-along and that convinced her, that this was the career for her.

She's encountered some people who tell her they won't deal with a woman officer and people who size her up, so she's learned to walk a fine line.

"You don't want to come off super aggressive but sometimes you've gotta be pretty blunt in order to drive a point home with individuals that may not respect you because you're a woman,” says Sgt. Emberton.

Both officers encourage women to consider this profession and do a ride-along to get a feel for it.

"You can't go wrong with it," says Sgt. Emberton.

"Absolutely, give it a try," says Officer Perez.

You can apply at JoinTPD.com


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