Coming soon! another 'height report'. Meanwhile.
Will women wear 'the badge that cares'?
By Wade Roberts
The badge that means you
care doesn't necessarily care
about you —especially if you are
The Houston Police Department's new minority recruiting
campaign —couples with agility
and height requirements —virtually eliminates women, of any
race, from police cadet classes.
Th^ newest cadet class provides an illustrative example: of
the class's 75 cadets, 36 are
white and 39 are minority.
Police Chief B.G. "Pappy"
Bond has made considerable
hubbub over the racial breakdown, citing it as proof that the
department has made a concerted effort to end the days of
the white-dominated police
force in Houston.
Those recruiting efforts, however, fall somewhere short of
successful when one considers
that the 75-person class numbers only three women among
the potential officers.
The problem is two-fold: the
new, slick recruiting campaign
does not include women among
the groups the department is
trying to attract; and, once
attracted, most women re eliminated by physical requirements
for entering the police academy.
The two police officers in
charge of recruiting, Capt. L.L.
Wunsche and Sgt. E.R. Williams, deny that the recruiting
campaign excludes women.
"That's just not the intent of
the program at all," said Williams. "The camaign is geared
to minorities —and that certainly includes women."
"I'd like to think that it is
directed toward women," said
Wunsche. "The recruiting program was designed specifically
to attract minorities —but we
didn't exclude women."
But city women's advocate
Nikki Van Hightower thinks
"The recruiting program now
is directed exclusively toward
black males," Van Hightower
said. "It just hasn't touched
"They just aren't interested
in women," she continues.
Van Hightower said she's
glad to see the department
doing something to attract minority members to careers as
law enforcement officers. She's
not, however, completely satisfied by the department's
"The police department has a
real race problem —and minorities have been discriminated
against in the past," Van
Hightower said, "I guess the
only way to reverse that is to
launch a heavy recruiting campaign designed to attract the
"But women have been discriminated against, too," Van
Hightower maintains, "and
they deserve a chance."
Ed Norton, an advertising
agent who handles the police
department's recruiting campaign, verifies Van Hightower's
assessment of the campaign's
In a conversatin with Breakthrough, Norton said "Sweetie,
I don't want to argue with you.
You can't change the thrust of
this campaign because it's
aimed at Blacks."
Although Norton's agency,
Goodwin, Dannenbaum, Litt-
man and Wingfield, is advertising heavily in minority pub-
lications, Norton refused even
to consider buying advertising
space in Breakthrough in an
attempt to reach women.
"You can butt your head
against the wall as much as you
want," he told Breakthrough,
"but I'm telling you that the
campaign is programmed for
Van Hightower said, while
she finds the advertising campaign offensive, she would
rather concentrate her efforts
on changing the department's
"There's no point in bringing
women down and recruiting
them when the requirements
are so tough that almost all
women are automatically excluded," Van Hightower said.
"There's no point in making
a fuss over the recruiting campaign alone," she said.
Wunsche and Williams agree
with Van Hightower that most
women applicants find it impossible to pass the agility and
"If applicants can pass all the
requirements, then we let them
in, regardless of their sex or
race," Williams said.
"And we have quite a few
women applicants coming in
who just don't meet the physical requirements —because they
were written for men," he
Williams said the tests are
designed to gauge upper-torso
strength —which most men, but
not women, naturally possess.
He also said the tests are not a
true measure of agility and that
an agility test could be written „
so women would pass and men
While the recruiting program
fails to encourage women to
apply for admission to the
department, the physical requirements are what actively
A total of 2,253 persons
applied for the current cadet
class, and 77 were accepted,
said Wunsche. Or the 1,301
white maJes who applied, 36
were admitted. Of the 709 Black
ICall: 222-5411 City of Houston Fair Housing Divisionj
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New HPD Cadet Class
males, 21 were admitted. Of the
241 Mexican-American males,
15 were admitted. Of the 120
Black women, three were admitted. Of the 85 White women
and seven Mexican-American
women, none were admitted.
Wunsche agrees that the low
admission rate of women applicants is because of the strict
"I'm personally disappointed
that we have not recruited and
hired more women," Wunsche
said, "but we certainly aren't
going to improve on the record
as long as the physical requirements remain as strict as
they are "
Those standards, Wunsche
said, may change soon. He said
the department has hired a consulting firm to study all of
the department's admission
The firm will issue a report
later this month, he said, that
may recommend changes in re
quirements found to be not job-
Mayor F red Hofheinz, during
a press conference held after
opening ceremonies* for the new
cadet class last month, hinted
that change of the physical standards may very well follow the
Just in case, however, d
Houston chapter of NOW has
filed a federal suit challenging
the constitutionality of the physical standards. If the department is not quick to change
them, the matter could be
decided in court.
"I think they have a very
valid case," Van Hightower
said, "and a good chance of
winning it unless the requirements are changed following
the consulting report
"Then, after that's out of the
way," she continued, "we can
do something about that offensive ad campaign."
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HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH - DECEMBER 1976 PAGE 3
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