MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Morgantown Police Department is looking to boost the number of women in its ranks and is teaming up with a national initiative to ensure that it sees growth over the next decade.

On Wednesday, the Morgantown Police Department hosted its first Women in Law Enforcement Open House event which featured a tour of the new MPD training facility, formerly known as the Defense in Depth shooting range, as well as a meet and greet with women currently on duty, a group discussion with Lt. Molly Linthicum, a session with the training simulator, and light refreshments.

“Obviously, a lot of it is geared towards trying to get more women to think about law enforcement as a career. But really, our focus was just to increase awareness and engagement with the community to try to get some more folks to apply to be a police officer,” said Emily Muzzarelli, the Assistant City Manager for Morgantown.

The department partnered with the 30×30 Initiative to put this event together, which aims to have 30 percent of law enforcement recruits be women by the year 2030. The partnership was forged in 2022, and Muzzarelli said that the initiative “provides a lot of information as to why they feel increasing women in law enforcement is helpful.”

“Sometimes victims of domestic violence or sexual assault are more likely to report those instances to another woman officer as opposed to a man,” said Muzzarelli. She also said that statistically, women officers tend to use less force in situations and can sometimes be better at de-escalation.

Muzzarelli said that while she thinks having a target audience of women is important for an event like this, men are encouraged to participate as well.

“We have great men and women on our law enforcement today on Morgantown PD, but we are down several officers and we figured this may be a great group of kind of untapped potential here in Morgantown to try to work to encourage in getting them into the department,” she added.

The city of Morgantown hopes to have more recruitment events in the future, targeting different demographics to address staffing needs with its local police department.

“I think it’s just gonna be kind of as our continued need for new individuals coming to law enforcement, trying to really hit all factors that we can,” Muzzarelli stated.

Muzzarelli said she thinks it’s great that the city is trying to specifically bring in more women officers to the Morgantown Police Department.

“The women that currently work for the Morgantown Police Department are very well respected and fantastic at their job,” she said. “So, I wholly support their efforts at this law enforcement open house focused towards women, and look forward to ones like this in the future.”

The open house event took place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1389 Earl L. Core Road in Sabraton.