PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – Law enforcement is a tough job. But one issue that has many police departments scratching their heads is what to so when an officer gets pregnant.
In fact, one South Jersey township got in hot water when they apparently made a controversial decision.READ MORE: Martin Luther King Drive Expected To Reopen To Vehicles In August
When Pemberton Township Police Officer Shannon Sawyer was ordered to stay home during most of her pregnancy she sued alleging discrimination, on the grounds she could work light duty.
The case settled last month– but the issue of pregnant cops remains.
“When you are pregnant, there’s some question about should you be handling bad guys, going into very dangerous situations,” explains retired sergeant and police consultant Elizabeth SmithREAD MORE: Community Recalls Memories At Historic St. Leo's Church In Tacony As Fire Crews Work To Determine What Caused Blaze
She says most departments have less than ten officers, and less than ten percent are women:
“Most agencies have a maternity policy, but they don’t have a pregnancy policy.”
Sawyer says agencies do layout timelines for pregnant officers to go on light duty and what to do when she returns, but issues of fairness always come up:
“Only women can get pregnant, so this is one of the times, you can’t be fair.”MORE NEWS: Funeral For Slain Officer, Delmar Police Cpl. Keith Heacook, To Be Held Monday
If there’s no policy, Smith advises that pregnant officers come up with a plan before disclosing their status.