- The Melvindale Police Department near Detroit, Michigan, knew it needed to upgrade its women’s locker room that was housed in a small, single-stall bathroom, but it didn’t have the funds for a renovation project.
- Marathon Petroleum’s Detroit refinery provided a grant and design support from its Women’s employee network members to create a sufficient space for the three women police officers and future additions to the department.
- The renovation resulted in a safer and more functional locker room that exceeded the officers’ expectations.
Police Corporal Jessica Winward recalls getting ready for her shift in the small women’s restroom in the Melvindale Police Department in Michigan. She would hang her bullet-proof vest on the shower door, reach over the toilet to get to her locker, and use the toilet as a seat to put on her boots.
“The station was built long before women were commonplace in police work, so the building itself was not designed with double locker rooms for men and women,” said Corporal Winward. “No one could possibly have been able to anticipate the need for women's facilities five decades ago.”
Police Chief Dan Jones recognized the small women’s restroom was not sufficient for the three female officers on staff, but the city did not have the funding to renovate the area. He believed it was going to limit their ability to recruit and retain women officers on the force in the future.
Whitney Walton, Security Coordinator at the Marathon Petroleum Detroit refinery, met with Chief Jones to discuss how Marathon could help recruit and retain officers. Melvindale is located 10 miles southwest of Detroit and home to a tank farm used by the Detroit refinery. Walton, a member of the Detroit refinery’s women’s employee network chapter, secured a grant from the refinery to upgrade the women’s locker room. Representatives from the women’s employee network met with the officers to get their feedback on the renovation plans.
“It was great having women from two traditionally male-dominated fields sit down and discuss how to make the space more equitable and inclusive,” said Walton. “You can see from the photos that the space turned out amazing.”
Construction crews created a new locker room down the hall from the original women’s restroom, which is also used by office staff. The new space includes five large lockers, a new vanity, adjustable lighting and a full-length mirror near the lockers for the officers to ensure their appearance falls within department standards. The existing restroom remained in place, meaning that the new locker room will not be shared with civilian staff or guests at the station, which enhances security.
“A space like this shows new officers that their needs are considered, and that there is a willingness to meet those needs,” said Corporal Winward. “In this case, our needs were not only met, but far exceeded. I think any potential new officer touring the station would be impressed, not only with the physical appearance and conveniences, but also with the fact that the effort expended proves that we are heard and that we are valued.”