I am delighted to publish this week’s blog just before we celebrate International Women’s Day.
It’s an important event for us here at Cleveland Police, where we celebrate the achievements of women in our great organisation. Across our social media platforms, you will see some of our staff talk about their work, what we do to increase gender equality and crucially, why gender equality is so important to us all.
Over recent weeks we’ve been privileged to facilitate visits from amongst others, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer as they attend our force area. I was proud to see that both the Strategic and Tactical Firearms commanders were both female and you can see more of the work they did to protect the Prime Minister in tomorrow’s posts.
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, I think back to the female police officers that have positively influenced me simply by being outstanding at their jobs regardless of gender. My tutor when I started my policing journey was PC 745 Jenny Jenkins at Aberystwyth Police Station. I remember walking into the station bleary eyed at 5.30am for my first shift and Jenny did not let my feet touch the ground for my whole tutorship. She taught me discipline, hard work, compassion and what it meant to serve the community. She was also a karate black belt.
This picture was taken long after Jenny’s retirement and it never fails to make me smile and I still feel like PC 322 Richard Lewis.
What made Jenny special was not actually her gender at all but her outstanding skills as a police officer. She commanded the respect of everybody that worked with her and I would turn to her every day for advice and guidance. When we walked the beat together members of the public would turn to me to ask for advice and I would always point to Jenny and say “she’s the boss”.
People assumed that I was the senior of the two officers which may have been based on my gender or my height, relative to Jenny’s. I try not to judge people for doing so; we’ve all made errors relating to bias in our lives. What is important is that we identify the bias and educate each other. That is why days such as International Women’s Day is so important.
Jenny retired as a Police Constable. I have no doubt that she could have gone as far as she wanted and led a large command or an organisation. My experience working with incredible people like Jenny has meant that I will always do my best to make our workforce as diverse as possible and to recognise talent regardless of gender or other protected characteristics. I owe it to Jenny and thousands like her to identify and develop our most talented people and crucially to scour the whole organisation to find them.
I’m delighted to say there are countless Jenny Jenkins’ here at Cleveland.
Have a great International Women’s Day and spend the time celebrating the abilities of the women who have influenced your life or career.
Jenny – thank you for everything you did. Your values influence my work to this day, including the way our outstanding staff protected the Prime Minister himself.
PC 322 Richard Lewis