NESPAC 2016 Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference

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The New England State Police Administrators Conference (NESPAC), which is responsible for hosting and planning various conferences and trainings for New England State Police agencies, hosted its first Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference in October. Massachusetts State Police Detective Lieutenant Carla Pivero and New Hampshire State Police Lieutenant Nicole Armaganian both sit on the NESPAC Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference Committee, and spoke with IACP regarding how the conference came to be, and the benefits to hosting a regional leadership conference dedicated to women.

The NESPAC Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference works to promote professionalism among women who serve in the field of law enforcement through education, training, mentoring, and encouragement by:

  • Providing a forum for information exchange between women in law enforcement,
  • Acting as a network and support system for women in law enforcement,
  • Serve as a resource for issues that affect women in the profession of law enforcement,
  • Foster formal and informal working relationships amongst attendees,
  • Enhance the overall image and recognition of women in law enforcement within the communities they serve.

Former New Hampshire State Police Colonel Robert Quinn originally suggested hosting a leadership conference for women after attending an IACP Women in Leadership training in 2012. Colonel Quinn realized how much of an asset the training was and wanted to create a similar in-house training that would be more accessible for all of his women troopers and those throughout New England.

After a couple years of individual agencies hosting small, in-house trainings dedicated to women, NESPAC formed a committee specific to the Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference. At least one representative from each state (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) sits on the committee so that each state agency participates and contributes to the location, planning, and content of the conference. The NESPAC 2016 Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference was hosted by Massachusetts State Police (MSP) in New Braintree, Massachusetts at the Massachusetts State Police Academy.

 Conference Logistics

The conference took place October 20-October 21, 2016, and consisted of two full training days that included topics such as leadership/folnespac-2lowership, leadership during crisis, suicide prevention and awareness, and balancing home-work life. There was also a panel of women who have held executive command leadership roles, both retired and currently serving. The two-day conference was free to all attendees (excluding travel costs), and women were welcome to stay overnig
ht in the MSP Academy dorms if they were not from the area. MSP covered the cost of food during the conference, with contributions being donated from local restaurants as well. Over 160 female troopers from across New England attended the conference.

Key Takeaways

 Lieutenant Pivero and Lieutenant Armaganian cited informal and formal networking as one of the most important benefits to having a leadership conference for women in law enforcement. “We need to do a better job of recruiting women, but we really need to do a better job of keeping the quality troopers we have,” says Lieutenant Armaganian. The conference allows women to connect with other women in law enforcement and realize that they have colleagues and friends facing the same challenges. The conference received praise from women who are new to law enforcement as well as women who have been in law enforcement for 20-40 years.

The conference also received great feedback from men in executive leadership positions. Similar to how Colonel Quinn felt after attending WLI for the first time, colonels present at the 2016 Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference admitted that they cannot see the law enforcement field or the challenges it faces from a woman’s perspective—but that fostering such diversity in thinking is critical to retaining women troopers in their agencies and leading stronger agencies altogether.

The conference was a tremendous success, and has now become an important staple for NESPAC. With so much positive feedback, Lieutenant Armaganian and Detective Lieutenant Pivero agree that more states and regions should host law enforcement leadership conferences for women. Women account for only 12% of law enforcement officers nationally, so one of the most important features of a policing leadership conference specific to women is merely reminding women troopers that they are not alone in the field, and that women can and should excel in law enforcement executive positions. In January 2016, Detective Lieutenant Pivero and Lieutenant Armaganian attended IACP’s week-long Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI). This international training program develops current and future leaders and focuses on the unique challenges facing women leaders in law enforcement. As a result of their attendance, the New Hampshire State Police is hosting a WLI in Concord, New Hampshire, August 20-25, 2017. Lieutenant Pivero says: “It empowers women to take a look at where they want to be five years from now. You can do it! But you have to have goals; you have to have a strategy in place.” It is clear that the NESPAC Women in Law Enforcement Leadership Conference is an incredible resource for New England women looking to develop those strategies.

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This conference also boasted the first-ever all-women NESPAC Color Guard.

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