British Columbia Women in Law Enforcement (BCWLE) is a non-profit organization whose vision is to strengthen, unite and promote women in law enforcement in the province of British Columbia.
In the fall of 2019, the association was established by members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). Female officers from VPD participated in an annual conference held by the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) and were inspired by the leadership demonstrated by law enforcement personnel from around the world. These members were encouraged to unite women in law enforcement across B.C. as other regions across North America had already formed an IAWP affiliation.
As a result, a group of seven women from the VPD came together and founded BCWLE: Shannon Olesen, Amber McElroy, Janine Tanino, Jodyne Keller, Barb Martens, Tanya McLachlan and Maureen Ing. This newly formed Interim Board set to work on creating BCWLE's mission, registering with B.C. Societies, writing a constitution and bylaws, and marketing the new association. Word spread quickly through peer to peer contact and through social media.
In November 2019, BCWLE’s President and Vice President presented at the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) annual meeting in Victoria, B.C. The response from B.C. police leadership was overwhelmingly supportive.
On December 10th, 2019, the inaugural meeting to introduce BCWLE to potential members was held at VPD headquarters. Over 60 men and women representing 14 agencies were in attendance. The atmosphere within the large board room was palpable and there was a tremendous sense of the association being long overdue.
As a leadership resource to the Interim Board, Superintendent Michelle Davey of the VPD formed an Advisory Committee bringing together her management colleagues from other law enforcement agencies.
Events early in 2020 included a social hosted by RCMP headquarters in Surrey, B.C., and an information meeting hosted by the Abbotsford Police expanding interest into the Fraser Valley region of B.C.
To unite law enforcement personnel across British Columbia, to create opportunities for everyone to meet and discuss topical issues affecting women in policing, to provide training for issues specifically related to women, and to facilitate networking and mentoring opportunities.
BCWLE has partnered with like-minded associations in British Columbia, across Canada and internationally. BCWLE plans to become an affiliate of the International Association of Women Police (IAWP).