Paige Michaud is one of three women police officers in the Brunswick Police Department’s 33-member roster. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

Paige Michaud has been a Brunswick police officer for just a few months, but she’s already made a big impression on police Chief Scott Stewart.

She has made a host of impaired-driving arrests, administered life-saving Narcan to people experiencing drug overdoses and discovered a huge cache of drugs during a disturbance at a motel last month.

“Paige is an outstanding police officer,” Stewart said. “She has many attributes that make her a good police officer — dedicated to her job, is a great communicator and very professional. … I wish I had 10 of her.”

The chief is doing more than wishing, as he became the first municipal police chief in Maine to sign on to a national effort to increase the number of women policing the streets.

The 30×30 Initiative, founded in 2021, aims to increase the percentage of women officers nationwide to 30% by 2030. Currently, women make up 12% of the country’s police force, according to Ivonne Roman, the former police chief of Newark, New Jersey, who co-founded the initiative.

The initiative has caught on — 310 police departments have signed on as of last week.


Roman said police departments across the country are facing a recruitment crisis, which has been attributed to resignations, retirements and a changing view of law enforcement in the wake of controversial acts of violence by police in the U.S., among other possible factors. She said women police officers are less likely to use force, make fewer discretionary arrests, are named in fewer complaints and lawsuits, and create better outcomes for crime victims, especially in sexual assault cases.

“This is an untapped demographic,” Roman said. “(Women) tend to de-escalate situations instead of being physical. Those are traits that align with what communities are asking for now.”

By signing on to the initiative, police departments agree to prepare reports about their demographics and hiring practices and share that information with each other to find ways to appeal to more women. Police departments are encouraged to create a more inclusive environment by doing things like making gender-specific uniforms and ballistic vests available and creating a space for new mothers to pump breast milk.

In December, nine of the 62 graduates of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy — 15% — were women. The vast majority, if not all, of Maine police forces are below the initiative’s 30% goal. Out of the 281 active Maine State Police officers, 24 are women, making up 9%, and there are 52 vacancies, according to spokesperson Shannon Moss. In Portland, 9% of the city’s police officers are women, while in Bangor, 16% of the city’s officers are women.

In Brunswick, three of the police department’s 33 officers, or 9%, are women, and there are five vacancies, according to Stewart. He said while only 3% of the department’s applicants are women, it hires 60% of them, compared to 10% of men.

“It makes you take a step back and say, ‘If we’re hiring females at a higher rate than men, why aren’t they applying?’ ” Stewart said. “We’re missing some really great female applicants who are for whatever reasons just choosing not go into law enforcement.”


The chief said the department made changes in recent years, like switching its badges to read “patrol officer” instead of “patrolman” and issuing gender-specific uniforms and ballistic vests.

“A police department whose makeup mirrors its community is a lot more successful and received better,” he said. “Not that we’re not, but there’s always room for improvement.”

Michaud said the department’s leadership has taken an active role in supporting women officers and their career plans. She said at a recent crash scene, Stewart asked her, “What’s one thing you want right now?”

She said she wants to be a drug recognition expert, which requires special training.

“The next day he came downstairs and told me, ‘We are hosting (the training),’ ” she said. “He’s completely supportive of the goals we have, which a lot of places aren’t.”

Michaud, 25, was hired by the Brunswick Police Department in October. She decided to become a police officer after completing an internship with the Old Town Police Department.


“I like helping people,” she said. “I don’t like sitting still. I like the versatility of what you do every day.”

She grew up in Northborough, Massachusetts, which last year hired its first woman police officer in more than 22 years.

“Growing up, I did not know any female officers,” she said.

Michaud graduated from the University of Maine and majored in international security and criminal sociology. She graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in December 2021; she said 11 of the 57 graduates were women, equaling 19%.

“People respond differently to us,” she said. “When we’re dealing with women on the road, they will sometimes respond better to us …

“Sometimes it works out better sending me to calls.”

Roman said changing the demographics of the nation’s police department starts at the top.

“It’s important that chiefs are the ones who approach us because they have to be the ones that change the culture,” she said. “We’re grateful for all the chiefs who have agreed to be part of this learning community.

“I’m glad there’s interest. It’s made a difference in the type of American policing we have.”

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