Constable Lisa Simonson of the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) became the first-ever president of the Saskatchewan Women in Policing (SWIP).
SWIP was formed to support women in policing and help increase women in leadership roles in the province and officially became a non-profit organization in December 2020.
Simonson said their goal for their members is to create an inclusive and professional environment while focusing on creating a female-centric space for career development. Officers who want to become a member will be able to hear about opportunities in the future. They also want to provide an opportunity for women in policing to connect and have access to training and mentorship.
“The policing and law enforcement community is a male-dominated profession where us women are a minority and there can be barriers for women in policing as they seek advancement or promotion within their respective organizations,” she said. “And collectively, we can work together to break down these barriers and increase women’s representation within leadership roles. More women at the table benefit us all.”
Simonson explained she had a hand in creating SWIP as she was familiar with similar organizations across Canada such as B.C. Women in Law Enforcement, Alberta Women in Policing (AWIP), Ontario Women in Law Enforcement, and Atlantic Women in Law Enforcement. Because there was no such organization in Saskatchewan, Simonson reached out to a former colleague with AWIP who offered to help her get SWIP off the ground.
Since then, many people in these similar organizations have been mentors to SWIP. She reached out to women in senior executive positions and other ranks across multiple police agencies and RCMP to see if there is a need for this type of organization in the province.
“The response was overwhelming in support to develop an organization like this and that one was long overdue,” she said.
They currently have eight board members who are from numerous different police organizations such as president Cst. Lisa Simonson (PAPS), vice president – Insp. Tonya Gresty (SPS), treasurer – Sgt. Kimberley Stewart (RCMP), professional development director – S/Sgt. Laurel Marshall (RPS), membership director – S/Sgt. Marlie Frei (MJPS), promotion/marketing/social media director – Cst. Andrea Vogel (SPS), events director – Cst. Danielle Stephany – (EPS) and secretary – Cst. Melinda Mintenko (WPS).
“I’m extremely proud to work with a great group of like-minded and motivated women,” she said.
They have received “overwhelming support” from various police organizations through donations that go towards their start-up costs and will be applying for grants in the future. She said they’re currently working on a communications strategy and website development.
“I’ve definitely seen over the years how women’s representation within the policing community and culture has increased,” Simonson said. “We can only get better and be role models for the young policewomen who are coming up behind us.”
PAPS Chief Jon Bergen told paNOW they are proud of Simonson.
“Recognized that there was work that could be done here that is being done elsewhere, and she took the lead,” he said. “She looked for support from the organization, and which of course we 100 per cent give, and she reached out to the other police agencies across the province and said, ‘hey let’s get this going’ and here she’s been elected as the president and [it’s] quite fitting. And we definitely commend what she’s doing.”