CASA GRANDE — While women make up a small percentage of sworn officers in Pinal County, the ones who do serve offer a different perspective.
Overall, women make up 10.1 percent of all sworn officers in Pinal County agencies, according to data provided to PinalCentral, something that Eloy Police Department Officer Calvina Singleton said should change.
“We should have more women in policing,” she said.
Women bring a different skill set to the job, she said, noting that she’s often able to calm suspects down in ways her male counterparts can’t.
“They (suspects) react different to women,” she said, noting that as a woman she’s not naturally testing their bravado.
Casa Grande Police Officer Tisa Ellsworth agreed, saying: “In my nearly seven years at CGPD, I’ve witnessed aggressive suspects calm down when I arrived, behavior change and have had some willing to speak with me and not other officers.”
Women’s nurturing nature can play a role in how they handle suspects, and even their fellow officers to an extent, but don’t be fooled. Singleton and Ellsworth both know it takes more than compassion to be a great cop; skill also is important.
Responding to an active fight situation, Ellsworth said she arrived on scene when one of the subjects wasn’t cooperating with verbal commands.
“I managed to grab his arm behind him and remove a large butcher knife from his pocket. He struggled with me a little until I slammed him on the ground and cuffed him,” she recalled.
And the response?
“He looked up at me and said, you can’t do that. You’re a girl!” she said.
Both Singleton and Ellsworth enlisted in the military prior to becoming police officers, and both did not join their respective departments until their 30s. Life, careers and families all came before policing, although both now say they’ve found their calling.
For Singleton, who is black, race also plays a part in her policing. But that’s not self-imposed.
“I feel that being African American in a small town is different,” she said. “Some suspects expect that you will give them a break. But the badge is blind. When I put it on, all I see is my ARS (Arizona Revised Statutes) book.”
Chiefs of police at both Casa Grande and Eloy told PinalCentral that having a more diverse police force, one that mirrors their respective communities, is important. But in order to do that, women and minorities need to first be interested in policing.
To girls and young women who are thinking of policing as a career, Singleton advises not putting limitations on what they can achieve.
“No limits. I hate limits,” she said.