West Jordan police taking on nationwide initiative to recruit women to force

Mar 31, 2023, 11:15 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2023, 5:32 am

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Opening the door to step into a patrol SUV, a West Jordan officer signs onto the radio to start responding to calls. Dispatchers bring up an address, saying a report has come in of a woman whose family can’t get in touch with her.

“Right now, we are going on a missing person investigation,” officer Alondra Zavala said, as she drove toward the address.

After arriving and clearing the house, before brainstorming with the family on where the woman might be, Zavala left and happened upon a crash. She immediately jumped out and ran up to a car sitting in the intersection, its bumper in pieces on the road.

“Are you OK?” she asked, of the woman sitting in the driver’s seat. The woman said she was shaken up.

“OK, do you need medical attention?” Zavala offered. She helped the woman collect herself and get her car out of the way, before starting an accident report.

Zavala heads toward the various calls that come in each day, she knows she doesn’t just bring her police experience and expertise — she also brings a unique perspective and dynamic, being a female.

Zavala is one of 14 women in the department.

“The 11%, yep,” she said, with a smile while sitting in her patrol SUV.

The West Jordan Police Department is hoping to increase that number, as the department looks for ways to diversify its staff to better reflect the community it serves.

The department signed on to the national 30×30 Initiative. The goal is to have 30% female police recruits by the year 2030. Through the initiative, Zavala explained, the department will look for ways to recruit more women who might not otherwise consider the policing profession.

“I think women tend to think maybe it’s not a job for them, or maybe they don’t know the opportunities that West Jordan offers, and also what it’s even like being a woman in law enforcement,” she said. “But you’ll never know until you come and try it out.”

According to the 30×30 Initiative, women make up 12 percent of sworn officers and three percent of police leadership in the U.S. At West Jordan PD, just one of the 14 women serves in a leadership position.

The 30 x 30 website explains that research suggests female officers use less force and less excessive force, are named in few complaints and lawsuits, and are perceived by communities as being more honest and compassionate.

West Jordan Police Department is the first city police agency in Utah to sign on to the 30 x 30 initiative. According to its website, the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office and University of Utah Police Department have also joined 30 x 30.

“There’s definitely a lot that we bring to the table,” Zavala said. “I’d say one of the big things is we are great communicators — at least I like to believe that we are– and that is a great thing when it comes to reaching out to the community.”

While increasing female representation is important, Zavala talked about how it’s just one part of a larger plan to diversify the force in many ways.

“I know we have at least 25% of our community speaks Spanish, so I think something that’s important to West Jordan is that we represent the people that we’re serving, and that happens to be diversity,” Zavala, who is fluent in Spanish, said.

She said many people in the community are Spanish, Tongan, Samoan, Thai and Vietnamese.

“We try to best serve our community, and what that looks like is finding people who speak those languages or look like they look like.”

Zavala didn’t have someone recruit her to join in the kind of outreach the department hopes to do in the future.

She ended up in the profession because of past experiences with police. Zavala explained she started seeing law enforcement at a young age because of a family member who often got in trouble.

Then, a few years ago on a trip to Mexico, Zavala said she was kidnapped with her family by law enforcement, and later rescued by law enforcement.

“I think that was kind of a big eye-opener for me to really see law enforcement has the ability to make a such huge impact on someone’s life when it comes to being super negative, or super positive — but you can do it all in one call.”

Her goal is to make a difference during both the good and bad situations, and foster positive relationships with the people she comes across.

Zavala decided to stop and pass out stickers to a family sledding down a hill during Thursday’s shift.

“It just looked like you guys were having fun!” she said. The mom explained they were visiting from Florida, and Zavala recommended the best sledding hills in the area.

After driving by two young girls waving signs on the road near the sledding hill, she stopped the SUV and hopped out.

The girls were wearing a different kind of uniform, with signs advertising Girl Scout cookies. She laughed and talked with them.

“You want to be a girl cop? It’s a great career!” she said.

She joined the girls at their cookie table and bought a couple of boxes. The group asked to take a photo, everyone laughing and smiling.

“I just wanted to have that opportunity to be that person who makes that impact. Whether it’s in a really good situation or it’s in a bad situation — but you’re being helpful and turning it into a good situation — or at least, having a positive impact when they see the uniform.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Matt Gephardt speaking to Thelissa Mead about Hyundai not responding to her claims and getting her ...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt helps Utah Hyundai owner seeking reimbursement for overestimated fuel economy

A major automaker was accused of saying their cars get better mileage than they really do, And they promised to pay their customers back. But when one Utah customer wasn't, she decided to Get Gephardt.

5 hours ago

Five pharmacists from  Smith’s Food and Drug were given awards for saving a man's life. (Andrew A...

Andrew Adams

Smith’s workers recognized by Sandy City for helping to save a life

Five pharmacists at Smith’s Food and Drug, 2039 E. 9400 South, were recognized by Sandy City for helping to save a man’s life.

5 hours ago

Handcuffs in a jail cell. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...

Michael Houck

Police: Motorcyclist found with ‘fresh blood on his face’ after allegedly shooting another driver

A motorcyclist allegedly followed a car after a physical fight and shot at the car's driver multiple times before fleeing the scene, police say.

6 hours ago

A family was safe after their Springville home caught fire Thursday. (Springville Fire and Rescue)...

Carlysle Price

Springville family displaced after house fire

 A mom and her two children were safe but displaced after their Springville home caught fire Thursday near 300 East.

6 hours ago

(KSL TV)...

Gitanjali Poonia, Deseret News

Owens leads legislation to rename Santaquin post office in honor of fallen officer

Utah Rep. Burgess Owens introduced legislation Wednesday to rename the Santaquin post office at 20 W. Main in honor of Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Dean Hooser, who was killed on May 5.

7 hours ago

The garage on fire near 9100 S Hummingbird Lane....

Logan Stefanich, KSL.com

‘We don’t want to get hit by a bullet’: Crews respond to Sandy fire containing ammo, gunpowder

A detached garage containing raw gunpowder and a "significant amount" of ammunition caught fire in Sandy on Thursday, leading to a hazardous situation for responding firefighters.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

West Jordan police taking on nationwide initiative to recruit women to force