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Women On The Police Force

March 14, 2014, 10:09 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Women On The Police Force

The Sioux Falls Police Department is looking for a few good men and women.

With women making up only about 10 percent of the force, they're always looking for more females to join the ranks.

We went on a ride along with a female officer to find out just what it takes to be a woman on the front lines of crime.

While working at Menard's, Jill Winninger often met with police officers who came to the store for shoplifting cases. When they suggested she join them at the police department, she didn't think too much of it.

"I just kind of laughed at first because I thought, 'I'm only 5'3". Nobody's going to listen to me.' And that's obviously not the case," Winninger said.

She's been with the force for about two and a half years now and says besides a few instances, she is treated like any other officer of the law.

"Most of them take me pretty seriously. My parents raised me to treat everyone with respect. And that's basically how I do my job day in and day out," Winninger said.

"As we know in this profession, about 90 percent of what we do is with our mouth. If you're able to communicate and do well working with people, you can easily get through any of those physical confrontations," Chief of Police Doug Barthel said.

Barthel says the misconception that women can't do the job as well as a man is completely off-base.

"Three years ago, this was basically considered a man's profession. And I think that probably the misperception was that females couldn't do the job. The fact of the matter is, they can do it and do it very well. Often times even better than a man," Barthel said. 

"I can walk into a heated situation and just calmly talk to somebody and de-escalate the situation, which both male and female officers can do that.  But sometimes having a female officer walk into a heated situation is helpful," Winninger said. 

Winninger says she loves her job and encourages other women to join the force.

"I wasn't sure if I would have something to prove as a female coming to this job. But everyone has been very welcoming and supporting. As long as you are willing to do your job and work hard, there's no problems," Winninger said.

Winninger says the best way to see if the job is for you is to do a ride along some time.

You can learn more about becoming a police officer by calling the Law Enforcement Center at 605-367-7212 or visit the police department website. 

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