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May 20, 2013

Plaistow has another officer ready for bike duty

Plaistow officer one of few women certified for motorcycle duty

(Continued)

Tim Merrill of the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council said 10 percent of officers statewide are female. The U.S. Department of Justice did a study in 2007 and found 12 percent of local police officers nationwide were women.

Windham is at 16 percent, while Derry is just at 6 percent. Salem and Atkinson have no female officers, and only one of Hampstead’s eight police officers is a woman. Londonderry has just three women on its 59-member force, 5 percent.

Derry, Atkinson and Windham do not have motorcycle details. Hampstead has five officers on their motorcycle unit but none are women. Six of Plaistow’s 17 officers are certified to drive motorcycles.

Plaistow police Chief Stephen Savage said Robicheau’s success is just another example of the evolution of police officers.

“We believe we have an environment that is favorable to female police officers,” Savage said. “We are getting a lot of female candidates because of it.”

Savage said 20 percent of the town’s candidate pool for new police officers are women.

“Those numbers are definitely up from where they were in years past,” he said. “Not too long ago, a female officer in the police academy was unheard of.”

Merrill said in the last five years, 12 percent of police academy students is female.

Miles said the small percentage of women who take the motorcycle course is a reflection of how many women are in the police force, but there are other factors, too.

“Some of it has to do with size and ability,” he said. “These motorcycles are big. Some males show up and have trouble touching the ground.”

But Robicheau was successful.

“Everyone was happy for me,” she said. “A lot know just how difficult this is.”

Robicheau will start patrolling on the Harley once she has her full gear.

“It’s just a great way to be more visible than being in a car,” she said. “With the windows up, you are often less accessible.”

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