First responders risk their lives on the frontlines to serve their respective communities. However, numerous studies point to a lack of women within law enforcement agencies.
In a 2021 study, data showed that 72.2% of men were law enforcement employees and 86.7% served as an officer. Other numbers show that women make up only 12% of sworn-in officers, and only 3% held leadership positions.
Bexar County Constable Kathryn Brown, Precinct 4, is not letting those numbers stop her from breaking barriers. In 2020, she was elected as the first African-American woman to a constable’s office in the county. Some have referred to her as a “trailblazer,” but Brown said the role is still surreal.
“Even when I pull up and I see the name ‘Constable Brown’ on the building, it’s like how did I go from a little ol’ sergeant working in the sheriff’s office to working in this capacity? I’ll have to say, every time I see it, it’s a humbling experience,” Brown said.
Some of the responsibilities Brown oversees include:
- Civil Process
- Court Security
- Criminal Subpoenas
- Bexar County Parks Patrol
Brown has over 20 years of experience in law enforcement. However, she said being a woman meant she had to prove she belonged.
“We have to prove our strengths constantly, and it didn’t take me a long time because I’m a straight shooter. I’ve always had the respect of my comrades because I’m a straight shooter what you see is what you get, there is no sugar coasting it and I play fair, she said.
There was a time when life didn’t play fair with Brown. She battled both breast and ovarian cancer; it’s something that changed her life and her purpose.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I’m still here, I’ve got to serve a purpose and I’ve got to pay something forward.’ I never thought I could utilize this platform for that, but it’s working really good,” Brown said.
Each October, Brown holds her annual breast cancer awareness event, where survivors are celebrated and lost loved ones are remembered. Three years into her role, Brown continues to have her hand and heart in the community.
Law enforcement may be male dominated, but women like Brown hope to change that statistic. During her time as constable, she has hired the most women in the history of precinct 4.
Other organizations are working toward the same mission. 30X30 is a national organization that works to increase the number of women in law enforcement by 2030.
Studies they’ve conducted show female officers benefit the communities they serve:
- Use less force and less excessive force.
- Are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits.
- Are perceived by communities as being more honest and compassionate.
Brown believes her greatest responsibility is to show other women they deserve a seat at the table.
“Look, I’m here. It took me a while to get here, but I’m here and if I can do it you sure as heck can do it,” she said.
This article is part of “Solutionaries,” our continuing commitment to solutions journalism, highlighting the creative people in communities working to make the world a better place, one solution at a time. Find out what you can do to help at SolutionariesNetwork.com.