Five women staff entire shift for Vandalia police

Sergeant Jennifer Chiles, Officer Brittany Blackford, Officer Whittney Bryson, and Officer Kristen Thomas, and Public Safety Specialist Deborah Wright respond to emergencies as the first all woman staff.
Sergeant Jennifer Chiles, Officer Brittany Blackford, Officer Whittney Bryson, and Officer Kristen Thomas, and Public Safety Specialist Deborah Wright respond to emergencies as the first all woman staff.

The Vandalia Division of Police had a notable “first” occur in late February.

On that day, Sgt. Jennifer Chiles opened roll call and addressed the officers on shift for the day. Officer Brittany Blackford, Officer Whittney Bryson, and Officer Kristen Thomas were the officers on duty. Public Safety Specialist Deborah Wright was staffing the Communications Center. In the 61-year history of the Vandalia Division of Police, it was the very first time an entire shift was staffed entirely by women.

While we were proud of the milestone moment within the ranks of our police division, we were pleasantly surprised to see the reaction of our community.

A social media post on the police department’s Facebook page highlighting the milestone netted nearly 10,000 views and 800 reactions and likes.

Sergeant Jennifer Chiles, Officer Brittany Blackford, Officer Whittney Bryson, and Officer Kristen Thomas, and Public Safety Specialist Deborah Wright respond to emergencies as the first all woman staff.
Sergeant Jennifer Chiles, Officer Brittany Blackford, Officer Whittney Bryson, and Officer Kristen Thomas, and Public Safety Specialist Deborah Wright respond to emergencies as the first all woman staff.

These officers and all our staff daily strive to quickly respond to and meet the needs of the community while taking a proactive approach to policing. I am proud of the work our officers and staff do by providing a sense of safety and security to our citizens.

Over the past three years, the Vandalia Division of Police has strived to attract, recruit and hire a more diverse group of candidates to the ranks. We have taken a more focused approach to attracting quality applicants through various recruitment tools and activities.

We have empowered those who know best about our police division to share their perspective. We’ve trained employees across the organizational chart on the finer points of recruiting. These employees attend recruitment and job fairs throughout the Miami Valley, speaking to and recruiting students who are enrolled in criminal justice and social degree programs at various universities and colleges. They also visit potential recruits attending local police academies.

Vandalia chief of police, Kurt Althouse.
Vandalia chief of police, Kurt Althouse.

Credit: Justin Spivey

Credit: Justin Spivey

Additionally, the police department organized and formed an Explorer Post in 2018 to offer students between the ages of 14-21 an opportunity to learn various aspects of the profession and give them the opportunity to ride-along and job shadow officers and dispatchers. Also, officers from the agency frequently visit the local high school to interact with students and promote a policing career.

Three of the last four officers hired over the past three years were female officers who brought a wide range of experience, knowledge and skills to the agency and allowed the agency to diverse the ranks.

Our primary goal is to recruit and hire the best-qualified candidates for our vacant positions. This approach has allowed us to reach out to a diverse range of candidates who have met and exceeded our expectations.

Kurt Althouse is the Vandalia police chief

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