It had nothing to do with gender; it had everything to do with the job. – Vancouver Police Foundation
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It had nothing to do with gender; it had everything to do with the job.

Carolyn Daley was the first woman to be appointed as a Deputy Chief for the Vancouver Police Department. Based on that alone, one would think it’d be an easy guess as to why she undertook a 17 + year labour of love to document the history of women in the VPD in Women in Blue.

But that wasn’t it.

It was actually one item on a Diversity Advisory Committee meeting agenda – the police officer’s physical abilities test (POPAT) – which caught her eye. There was debate that the POPAT was discriminatory toward women and the discussion was about changing the requirements accordingly.

Deputy Chief Daley felt differently. Since 1912, when the first female was hired at VPD (or so they thought!), until 1975 when gender equality in law enforcement was enshrined in law, women fought for equality within the department. The POPAT was essential to that fight. It was developed based on studies of 217 police officers and what they did during a “normal” day. The stations on the test were designed to mimic the requirements of an average police constable (PC) on an average day. Given that all police officers start as PCs, Deputy Chief Daley and others felt that a standard, non-gendered POPAT was essential for the continued acceptance of women on the job. By passing it, female officers could stand beside their larger male counterparts knowing they had passed the same test (or met the same physical requirement standards).

After the Committee meeting where Deputy Chief Daley spoke about this, several people asked her if the history of women in the department, the POPAT and more had been written down. When she answered no, several asked her to take on the project.

Little did she know that by saying yes, she would embark on a 17-year odyssey, learn things that would change the department’s history and start a new career as a publisher!

The VPF was proud to provide funding to support the completion of this incredible book and history of the VPD, as well as support a number of initiatives to support women in policing each year. We thank the generosity of the Nighthawk Foundation for funding this grant.

To learn more about the Women in Blue book, click here. 

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