Parkland job fair invites women to consider law enforcement

Matthew Moss

Staff Writer

The Women of Law Enforcement career fair hosted by Parkland College encourages women from all walks of life to explore a job in police and first responder work.

The fair is not limited to Parkland’s police. Law enforcement and disaster response teams from across Champaign County will be present, providing visitors with the opportunity to compare and contrast not only the lines of work themselves, but the individual departments as well.

Angela Corray, a sergeant with Parkland police and the only female officer currently on the force, says it is not only conventional college-age women who show up to the event. Corray said women who are married and have children also visit the fair due to their interest in law enforcement work.

“Every type of woman you could run into is at that fair,” Corray said.

Corray, a mother herself, encourages women with familial responsibilities interested in the police, fire, or medical fields to attend the fair. She said the event will be family-friendly and includes an area set aside for child-oriented activities.

The career fair also serves as a resource for recruiting. Corray said there are part-time positions available with the force such as dispatcher that people can apply for at the event.

Bonita Burgess, associate director of public safety, said the Parkland Police Department is open to recruiting more women into its ranks.

“We’re always looking to diversify the department,” Burgess said.

She said that having women as officers can be an asset to a police force and believes a female victim in cases such as domestic abuse or sexual assault could feel more comfortable talking to a female officer as opposed to a male.

Corray and Burgess both agree the law enforcement field is more accepting of women than it was in the recent past. Corray urges women to not be discouraged because law enforcement and first responder work are male-dominated fields.

Corray trained with a woman who graduated from the Illinois State Police Academy’s second-ever class that permitted female students, 20 years prior to her own graduation. Corray said listening to her colleague’s experiences during her training cast some light on how tolerant the field has become in recent years.

“It’s a whole different world than it was 20 or 30 years ago,” Corray said.

Burgess, who switched over to the administrative side of the field after being a uniformed officer at Parkland for many years, agrees with Corray. She said it has become much more accepting over the years.

“We’re trying to get more women interested in the law enforcement field,” Burgess said. “It’s a good field to be in.”

Data compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics says that in 2008 women accounted for 20 percent of sworn law enforcement officers nationwide. In that year, there were roughly 100,000 female officers in the United States.

Over a 10-year period starting in 1998, the American law enforcement field saw a 1.2 percent increase in the number of women among its ranks. The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, both federal agencies, saw a much larger increase of seven percent. In 2008, women accounted for almost a third of the full-time officers in the IRS.

The Women of Law Enforcement career fair will be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 10am-2pm in the Student Union building. It is free to attend and will include prizes and giveaways that can be won by visitors.