While federal statistics show women hold just 13 percent of all sworn police officer positions in the United States, Gurnee defies that number at the top of its department.
Saundra Campbell's promotion from commander to deputy chief at a village board meeting Monday night means women are now in two of the top three Gurnee police administrative posts. Mayor Kristina Kovarik administered an oath of office to Campbell and David Farrow, who was elevated to police commander.
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Campbell, 53, fills a vacancy created by James Caldwell's retirement and joins Terri Kincaid as deputy chief. Kincaid became the first woman appointed as deputy police chief in Gurnee in 1997.
Police Chief Kevin Woodside said the women deserve his department's top executive jobs. Woodside became top cop nearly three years ago.
"I don't know that there is a precedent for two women as deputy police chiefs -- perhaps that's unique, I'm not sure -- but it certainly is not the reason they're in the positions that they're in," Woodside told the Daily Herald. "Both Deputy Chief Kincaid and now, Deputy Chief Campbell, are both extremely competent law enforcement officers and they're in the positions that they've earned and positions they belong in."
Lake County's lone female police chief, Hawthorn Woods' Jennifer Paulus, said Campbell and Kincaid can serve as role models for women who become Gurnee officers and aspire to be part of the administrative team.
"It's really exciting to see women move into the executive positions in law enforcement," Paulus said.
Campbell downplayed the significance of having women in two of the three executive roles for Gurnee police.
"We don't have a culture of -- at our department -- of females, males. Everybody just kind of does their job. Everybody who's suited for a job does it," said Campbell, who was hired as a Gurnee officer in 1992 and holds a master's degree in psychology.
U.S. Department of Justice statistics show women account for roughly 13 percent of sworn police officers. In the 1970s, the figure was 2 percent, with most of the women employed at police departments in clerical jobs.
In March, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office identified 25 female police chiefs and deputy chiefs statewide for invitations to a Women's History Month ceremony she hosted. Paulus said she was among the chiefs who attended.
Topinka highlighted what she said are obstacles standing in the way of women in law enforcement, including physical examinations and uniforms created with men in mind.
Kincaid said women bring a different perspective to police work.
"We do see the world differently and sometimes that may get overlooked if there is not a female in the room," Kincaid said. "I think that is helpful because everybody has their input and we can look at things in totality before making decisions."