Positive Connections: Kansas women break barriers, blaze path in policing

Positive Connections

ARKANSAS, CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — The women within the Arkansas City Police Department are breaking barriers, making up more than 20 percent of the commissioned staff.

Ofc. Kelsey Horinek patrols Arkansas City.

“It’s encouraging to me to see the females go through the ranks and see that it is possible and sex doesn’t matter,” said Arkansas Police Master Patrol Officer Kelsey Horinek.

Horinek, 27, is in her fifth year with the department. Before becoming an officer, she worked for four years at the county jail.

“I got to know how to deal with people when they are in a high-stress situation or how to deal with people going through a crisis,” Horinek explained.

The Winfield native, now the senior female officer within ACPD, is one of six women on the 27-person force.

“Interestingly enough, since I started in 1996, we have only had one female officer at any given time through about the mid-2000s. Then none until Kelsey (Horinek) was hired in 2016. The other five have been hired since Kelsey,” said Arkansas City acting Police Chief Eric Burr.

Women make up about 22% of the ACPD officers. It’s a strong statistic compared to the overall employed female officers in the state.

There are 8,657 active Kansas law enforcement officers. Of those, 972 are actively employed female law enforcement officers, or about 11%, according to the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.

Of the Wichita Police Department’s 693 commissioned staff members, 113 are female or about 16%.

Burr credits Ark City’s high percentage of female officers to community outreach and a culture shift.

“A few years ago, we signed on to do an accreditation program and through that program, we ramped up our recruitment activities and it’s actually through those activities we were able to expand and hire more female sworn officers,” Burr explained. “Another thing is that we have kind of built a culture here with the Ark City Police Department with community outreach and I think people readily identify with that outreach program, so I think that brings more applicants in as well.”

Horinek knew at a young age she wanted to get involved in law enforcement in some capacity.

“My dad and my stepmom are in law enforcement, so I kind of just watching them. It piqued my interest,” she said.

She told KSN her sex does not matter when she is on the job. Instead, she hopes to act as a role model to young girls looking to pursue whatever career they see fit.

“If it’s something they want to do, definitely follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to take over in a male-dominant field,” Horinek said.

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