PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Police Department is joining an initiative of inclusion.

On Sept. 12 the department signed on to participate in the 30×30 Pledge.

The pledge is a movement sweeping police stations nationwide. It’s a series of low- and no-cost actions policing agencies can take to improve the representation and experiences of women in law enforcement.

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said the goal is to have 30% female officers sworn in by the year 2030 and to ensure police forces are truly representative of the areas they’re policing.

“We need to strive to make sure that not only as officers, but in our supervisory staff as well that those opportunities are there for them [women],” Echevarria said.

Currently, women only make up 12% of sworn-in officers and 3% of police leadership in the United States.

Echevarria said Peoria’s police department is made up of 12.5% of female officers, which is above the national average. But he said the department falls below the 3% national average of women in police leadership roles.

Echevarria said it’s essential to add more women to the department.

“We need women in law enforcement,” Echevarria said. “They bring something that the men don’t bring.”

“Women de-escalate calls easier, their communication skills often times are better,” Echevarria said.

Sergeant Amy Dotson is among that 3% in leadership roles at the Peoria Police Department and she said she wants to see more females in the male-dominated field.

“Typically, we always have a line of males and just a few females, so it would be nice to have a department with more of a mix of female officers,” Dotson said.

She said she feels she belongs in law enforcement and that, as a woman, she naturally wants to take care of people.

“I feel like as a woman, that’s something that I feel like I was born to do,” Dotson said. “I want to take care of people, you know, my own children, the community I enjoy what I do and if it means helping someone in their day, I’m here for it.”

Dotson also has encouraging words for women interest in going into the field but may be held back by second thoughts of fear or uncertainty.

‘Yes, you can,” Dotson said. “You can do this.”

Echevarria said the department plans to start increasing recruitment tools later this year including panels and discussions to reach more women interested in the field.