Forced out 20 years ago, moms return as cops

Chunichi Shimbun

Donning badges for the first time in more than 20 years has given a new sense of duty to three female officers in the Shiga Prefectural Police who were effectively forced out when they had kids.

“We are ready to outdo the rookies,” Toshiko Fuse, 52, Masako Kawada, 48, and Mami Uchida, 48, said in a statement after being reinstated at police headquarters earlier this month.

“Working as a police officer has been the joy of our lives,” they added. The three officers kicked off their careers at a time when policewomen were rare.

But when it came time to give birth and raise children, the force wasn’t ready to provide a suitable working environment for mothers or bring them back into the fold.

Despite having no choice but to quit when they were in their late 20s, the three started volunteering as consultants in police posts several years ago. The interaction with the younger officers always left them with a burning desire to rejoin the force, they said.

This April, the Shiga Prefectural Police amended its rehiring policy by scrapping a condition that forbade officers who had been away more than 10 years from returning to the force. Fuse, Kawada and Uchida were the first in line to apply.

According to the Shiga police, only nine prefectural forces allow officers who have quit to return, but seven of those limit the candidates to those who have been away for less than 15 years.

The Shiga and Kagawa police are the only two prefectural forces without such provisions.

While their former colleagues have since become veterans — some with high-ranking positions — Fuse, Kawada and Uchida are ready to prove their time away was valuable.

“There are things that can be felt and seen only when one distances oneself from the police,” the statement by the three said. Police work has also come to require a stronger female presence as crimes involving domestic violence and stalking increase.

“We’ve learned a lot from our experiences as housewives and mothers. We hope to make the most of that in our new positions,” they added.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Aug. 13.