Dr. Rita Watkins, Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), and SHSU Graduate Student Angela Warner recently traveled halfway around the world to provide leadership training to women in law enforcement in Southeast Asia.
“Leadership for Women in Law Enforcement,” sponsored by the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, provided leadership training and networking opportunities for 46 female law enforcement executives from eight countries in the region. Participants included senior law enforcement officers, attorneys, immigration and human trafficking specialists, investigators, intelligence officers, finance and budget specialists, and U.S. Embassy security from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Students participate in a listening exercise
“To be attached to this project is such an honor and privilege,” said Dr. Watkins. “I learned so much from these women. Together, they had 752 years of experience, anywhere from two to 34 years of service. They were able to develop friendships, networks of support, and skills they learned from each other.”
The five-day program, taught by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, discussed leadership trends and challenges facing women in law enforcement. The participants also identified five common themes in their profession in an effort to develop strategies to address them. The women put on plays and skits, did interviews with role models and role playing exercises, and made videos to demonstrate problems and the solutions they used. Among the issues common to law enforcement women in Asia and other parts of the world are:
- Women supporting or not supporting each other
- Generational gaps
- Occupational safety and health issues in an operational environment
- How to deal with unethical behavior in the office Overcoming the challenges of physical characteristics
- Male dominated gender equality and how females think differently than male counterparts
- How to support other women for success and achievement
- How subordinates respond and react to female and male counterparts.
< br/>Female police executives from Southeast Asia listen to a panel discussion at the International Law Enforcement Academy.
Angela Warner, Supervisory Special Agent/Pilot for the Aviation Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston and graduate student at SHSU, also participated as an instructor and panelist. Warner, the first female helicopter pilot and supervisory agent in the DEA aviation division, said that many of the Asian women were in the same place that American women were 30 years ago, delegated to administrative, legal or witness interviewing positions, but yearning for a chance for operational leadership roles as undercover, tactical, patrol, or trainers.
Women police executives built networks across Southeast Asia,“I was truly amazed and truly humbled by the level of education and experience sitting in the audience,” said Warner. “I probably learned as much from them as they did from me. Gender issues are still alive in law enforcement and a lot of women are looking for operational experience.”
Dr. Watkins said the training provided an opportunity for women in Asia to network and to depend on one another not only in times of crisis, but for general support and inspiration. “They are proud of their rank and their role and they want to be able to share that with someone,” Dr. Watkins said.
This is the third time that ILEA provided this training to women across the globe. The first session was held in Romania and the second took place in Budapest. In addition to Dr. Watkins and Warner, other presenters including Jenny Lau, Superintendent of Police in Hong Kong, and John Limbach and Janet Lanham of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.