VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Detective Angela Murphy wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a little girl. However, she hit many barriers along the way.
"I was told by one chief that I was was too feminine to be a police officer," said Murphy.
While she's been with the Virginia Beach Police Department for 16 years, she's still underrepresented.
"Out of all officers in the United States, females are severely underrepresented and account for only 12% of the workforce," said VBPD Police Chief Paul Neudigate.
Out of 700 police officers in the VBPD, only 116 are women. It is a severe shortage in a crucial time in policing.
Chief Neudigate pledged to change that on Thursday.
"We know where we are in a national sentiment, and it is not viewed as a desirable profession as a whole, but we know everyone here as as servant heart," he said.
He joined 80 other agencies in signing the 30x30 Initiative.
The goal is to increase representation of women on the force by 30% by the year 2030.
"Research suggest female officers use less force, can engage with diverse cultural groups; they're named in fewer complaints, and they are in a better position to assist crime victims like those in sexual assault cases," said Neudigate.
Murphy agrees women bring a different perspective to policing.
"We have a softer touch and are able to communicate better," said Murphy.
The department is well on its way to accomplishing the pledge. In the current recruiting class set to graduate in July, nearly half of the officers are female.
"To me, knowing our chief our and our department doesn't look at me as less - than means the world to me," said Murphy.