EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The law enforcement field has long been perceived as a male-dominated industry. New data from Chippewa Valley Technical College shows more women are seeking careers in law enforcement. As part of Women’s History Month, First News at Nine’s Jonathan Fortier explains the new trend.

Riley McLennan with the Eau Claire Police Department said, “For our department, we have seen more officers get hired with the Eau Claire Police Department. There’s been a handful more that have been hired since I’ve been working here as well.”

Riley McLennan has been with the Eau Claire Police Department for five years, and she says it’s encouraging to see more women pursuing the profession.

“I think it’s great that there’s more involvement of females going into law enforcement. I hope that gives females more interest in going into law enforcement, even starting at girls of a young age for that too,” said McLennan.

McLennan says women help bring a unique set of skills to the department.

“There are victims in certain cases that can establish a better rapport with female officers and just having a different set of communication skills and tools to help officers on other calls as well,” said McLennan.

When it comes to law enforcement training programs, women are also making inroads.

This semester, 36% of the students enrolled in the law enforcement academy at CVTC are women. That is more than triple the rate in spring 2019.

Eric Anderson, CVTC Director of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement said, “It is encouraging to us to have this increase and see this increase of women because it is extremely important that the police department, law enforcement in general, represent the community, represent the diversity of the community.”

Eric Anderson has been an instructor for CVTC’s criminal justice program for over 15-years, but before that, he was a police officer in Madison, where he started to see the shift in diversity firsthand.

“At one point in my career, my sergeant, my lieutenant, and my captain were all women in the city of Madison,” said Anderson.

Of the 22 students now enrolled in this spring’s class, 8 of them are women. Lauren Philips of the Superior Police Department is one of those students and says part of her motivation is to set an example for the younger generation.

Phillips said, “I think it is very important for all of us to show them that it can be done and what we can do.”

A new generation of recruits, inspiring other young women to follow in their path.

First News at Nine, Jonathan Fortier.

Of those eight women enrolled, two are Eau Claire Police Department recruits and three of them made history in the superior police department, being the first recruiting class at the department to be all women.