Former police officer Debra Hartley will arrive in Washington, DC today after walking 225 miles from Effort, Pennsylvania in a mission to raise awareness on sex bias that impacts women in law enforcement. Hartley hopes to meet with First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss policies that would address this issue once arriving in DC. She has been walking 15 miles a day since leaving her home on July 3.
Hartley left her post with the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department in September of 2003 after filing complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission and the US Equal Employment Commission that she was treated differently than her male co-workers, according to the Baltimore Sun. In her complaints, which were repeatedly ignored by the Chief of Police at the time, Hartley alleged that male police officers received preferential treatment regarding scheduling and that she frequently was not provided with the proper backup from her male co-workers, which threatened her safety on the job. She is now appealing her complaint in federal court, according to Pennsylvania Local News.
Only 13% of police officers nationwide are women, according to the National Center for Women & Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation. In addition to sexual harassment and bias in the workplace, discriminatory hiring and selection practices continue to keep women underrepresented in the police force. Hartley says, "So many women in law enforcement have to sacrifice their careers because of the obstacles they face as women police officers. Mostly dealing with gender bias, discrimination, and sexual harassment".
Media Resources: The Baltimore Sun 7/20/09, Pennsylvania Local News 7/9/09, Pennsylvania Home Page 7/3/09