Officer Sonia Henriques’s request to be assigned to light duty due to her pregnancy will be granted, ending days of controversy. Ocean Township Police Chief Antonio Amodio originally denied Henriques’s request, even though office jobs were available at police headquarters. Office Henriques was told to either continue working as she always has or take an unpaid leave of absence, reports the Associated Press. The decision caused outrage on the behalf of the decorated officer and calls for more reasonable maternity policies in police departments.
Dr. Fabrice Czarnecki of the Police Policy Studies Council wrote a report about the hazards that could affect pregnant police officers. She writes, “The work of pregnant officers should be adapted to decrease the risk for trauma, whether it results from assaults or accidents, which would expose the mother and the fetus. Typically, the patrol position is the most vulnerable position and should be avoided during pregnancy.”
Outdated policies or the lack of policies concerning pregnancy and policing stem from the fact that policing is a male-dominated profession. The National Center for Women and Policing, a division of FMF, reports that in order to obtain higher levels of recruitment and retention of women, police departments must have more women-friendly policies, like pregnancy policies.
Karen J. Kruger, senior assistant county attorney in Harford County, Maryland, calls for favorable pregnancy policies in her article (see PDF on pregnancy and policing, writing, “It is critical, then, for the continued success of the profession that law enforcement agencies recruit and retain women to serve as police officers.”
Officer Henriques was awarded a medal of valor for diffusing a violent situation in December.