Women in policing celebrate International Women’s Day

Lanark County OPP detachment recognizes International Women’s Day
Lanark County OPP detachment recognizes International Women’s Day on March 8. These women on the front lines include: (back, left to right) Cst. Laura Breteler, Cst. Judy King, Cst. Glenda Timmins, Acting Staff Sgt. Kathleen Magill; (front) Cadet Karleigh Kucharik, Cst. Anna Forsythe, Sgt. Amanda Ormsby and Cst. Megan Baxendale. These are a few of the women who work at the Lanark OPP Detachment. This was the day shift group on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: March 8, 2024

On the front lines with some of Lanark County OPP’s female officers


As we recognize International Women’s Day on March 8, this year’s theme focuses on inclusion. 

Imagine a gender equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. 

“Together, we can forge women’s equality and collectively we can all #inspireinclusion,” the IWD website states.

Women on the front lines are noted for their work at the Lanark County Ontario Provincial Police. 

Sgt. Amanda Ormsby is following in her father’s footsteps. She is also a mom of three daughters “who drive my motivation to be a good role model and community member and demonstrate the positive impact you can have on others and your community through dedication and compassion,” she said. “I have also included my children in OPP community events so they can participate and experience firsthand positive impacts that police officers have on the community.”

Ormsby said equity and inclusion are priorities in the OPP and the communities they police.  

“I have participated in numerous courses, training and cultural events hosted by the OPP to increase my knowledge and understanding of the diverse community that we serve and how to contribute to an inclusive environment,” she said. “To assist in influencing others, I am the co-chair of our detachment Equity and Inclusion Committee. In this leadership role, I promote and embrace the diversities of our detachment and communities while encouraging detachment members to collaborate with one another and the community to increase awareness and inclusivity.”

Ormsby said knowledge and access to information is the key to any initiative or program that supports women advancing in the business. 

“I also believe that networking is essential to providing information, support and guidance to women that are interested in law enforcement – such as the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement support network,” she said. “The ultimate key to success is to find the drive and initiative within yourself and seek out the information and opportunities to develop and challenge yourself to achieve your goals.”

She said she can see the role of women in policing continuing to grow and evolve as society evolves. 

“In policing, we are seeing more and more women in leadership positions as well as increased numbers in uniformed positions,” Ormsby said. “I believe that policing will become increasingly inclusive and opportunistic not only to females, but to society as a whole.”

If you are looking for a career that will challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally but also allow you the opportunity to influence and make a difference in the lives of others and your community, policing is a career that will afford you the opportunity to do that, she noted. “Though I have had many challenging days in my career, it has been extremely rewarding and if given the opportunity, I would not change any of it,” Ormsby said. “Policing is not just a job, but a lifestyle. Being a police officer is not something that you turn off at the end of your shift. It is who you are. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I have had, the people I have met and can truly say I am honoured to be a part of the policing family. This is a family that extends beyond organizational boundaries and is felt by anyone who puts on the uniform and wears the badge as well as all of our civilian members.”

Cst. Anna Forsythe said she wanted to show others that police are regular people. She was a dispatcher first, then became an OPP officer. 

When I was in high school, I remember having an interest in policing; however, never thought to pursue it in my post-secondary education. While in university, I heard about employment opportunities at the OPP Provincial Communication Centre (PCC) in Smiths Falls. After learning about the position, I revisited my interest in policing from years prior. I saw the position at the PCC as a great learning opportunity and stepping-stone into a career in policing. I worked at the PCC for little under three years, gaining valuable knowledge and experience which helped prepare me for a career as a police officer,” Forsythe explained. 

Unique challenges she’s faced as an officer have run the gamut. 

Forsythe noted, “I have had numerous experiences where members of the public spoke down to me or made derogatory comments based on my gender. In the past, policing was a career primarily dominated by men. As society’s views have changed, so too has this career. I’ve overcome these challenges by recognizing them and ignoring them, as I know I am capable and competent. I take pride in being a role model for my daughters and encourage them to pursue any career, as I did, and they too can be successful.”

Forsythe said that diversity and inclusion are essential to the success of any police service. “Fostering (a) welcoming and inclusive environment promotes open conversation, which create an ideal atmosphere for members to exchange ideas and succeed,” she said. “In this job, I interact with people of varying backgrounds, cultures, ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses. Everyone’s situation is different. I feel it is very important as police officers to understand the people with whom we interact, to tailor our approach and treat them with respect and dignity. While at work, I always take time to talk with people and build rapport … (so) I can better understand and address their needs.”

Forsythe said she was impacted by a homeless family she helped with community supports, gift cards for food, and a couple nights’ stay at a motel. She said seeing the young homeless children really hit home, and her interaction with them emphasized the impact that police officers have on people and their ability to change lives.

“This career is rewarding yet challenging and enables you to leave an indelible mark on the communities you serve,” Forsythe said. “The relationships you build with colleagues are unique and a platoon can be like a family. This career has provided me the opportunity to continuously learn new things and grow professionally and personally.”

Acting Staff Sgt. Kathleen Magill said she’s been given opportunities equal to men, “although women are still proportionately under-represented in uniform roles. As we reflect on 50 years of females in uniform ranks in the OPP, there have been many achievements which I know will continue and help build strong women leaders.”

In a field that has been traditionally male-dominated, Magill said she would like to see more women enter this workforce. 

“I hope that we can inspire many more to join our ranks,” she said. “Women have held every rank within the OPP, including Commissioner. As a proud police officer, I would encourage anyone who may be interested in policing to attend a recruiting seminar or check out our OPP Careers web page or any of our social media. There are so many interesting fields and opportunities within the OPP, both civilian and uniform.”

Diversity and background, experience and approach in a workforce is well known to increase organizational effectiveness and policing is no different, Magill said. 

“In 2021, I created the Lanark County diversity and inclusion committee. The committee has grown significantly and is quite active within detachment and in the greater Lanark County,” she said. “Some of its activities include hosting educational training opportunities for our officers and attending cultural events within the community we police. It is important not only to better understand the diverse communities we serve, but also to integrate ourselves so we can build lasting relationships and foster trust and respect.”

Magill said that within law enforcement, there are many established organizations that support female representation — Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE) and the International Association of Women in Policing (IAWP). There are also more conferences specifically geared toward supporting females in leadership roles. 

Within the OPP, there is also a Member Support Network for women. 

In October 2023, Lanark County OPP, Smiths Falls Police Service, Perth and Drummond North Elmsley Tay Valley Fire Services and Lanark EMS co-hosted a Lanark County Female First Responders Camp. 

“There were 24 females chosen who ran through hands-on activity stations over the course of two days. The campers worked alongside local female first responders and leaders and were able to ask questions while exploring different career options.” 

Magill said they look forward to collaborating with community partners again in the future.

“Policing can be a demanding profession carrying with it a range of challenges, opportunities, and risks,” Magill said. “It is also highly rewarding and life changing. I have no regrets with my career choice, and I hope to inspire the next generation of female officers to come work alongside me.”Acting Insp./Detachment Commander Kerly Tawdrous said, “The Lanark OPP detachment is proud to celebrate the 50th International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and take action to advance equity. I am very proud of the women at our detachment (who) hold a variety of roles and leadership positions — managers, detectives, front line officers and civilians. They help ensure public safety. In Lanark we have a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Council that is committed to foster inclusivity and learning opportunities for all our members. We are sharing some stories of successful local women in Lanark, to help inspire the next generation of girls and women that are interested in a career in policing and to celebrate our amazing women leaders.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News