Middletown female police officers target of sexism

MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - Female officers with the Middletown Police Department have allegedly been the targets of a retired officer's sexist remarks.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw says a retired officer made comments about being upset by how many females the department was hiring. FOX19 NOW's Maytal Levi asked Muterspaw if he could share what the person said, and he replied, "No."

"I'm not going to repeat it," he said. "It's not proper. It's not appropriate for television to repeat what he said."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.6 percent of police officers in 2012 were women. Out of 69 officers on staff in Middletown, 13 of them are women.

That includes officers Sheoki Reece and Rachael Ward.

"Every day before you go out you want to make sure that everything is clear," said Reece, as she checked her AR-15 before loading it into the trunk of her cruiser Thursday.

Despite going through her check-list, Reece and her female colleagues have been discriminated against because of their gender.

"Some older people have the mindset that women don't belong in law enforcement, we're not strong enough to do the job and things like that," said Reece, who has served since 2002.

Ward, 22, joined the force five months ago. She says sometimes it can be hard being a female in uniform.

"Especially talking to the older crowd, they look past me sometimes," said Ward.

Muterspaw says he hires based on qualifications, not gender or race. He says women also have the power to communicate well if not better than men during tense situations, like when responding to suicide calls.

Regardless of what was said, Reece and Ward are sure about they're worth.

"You don't let things get to you, there are worse things said about us on the street," said Reece, who received Employee of the Year in January.

Muterspaw hopes to shatter the glass ceiling hanging over his community for professional and personal reasons.

"If you can't accept the change, you need to get out of the way or be quiet. I have daughters and one is a freshman in college studying criminology and I don't want anybody, any boss to say she can't achieve something. She can do anything my son can do," he said.

Muterspaw took over as chief three years ago. He says he's doubled the number of females on staff compared to 2012.

"I know what I'm capable of and I know in my heart that I am able to do this job," said Ward.

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