Can pregnant cops still work?

The ACLU is representing five Detroit police officers forced to take sick leave after getting pregnant. Why not just give them desk duty?

By Sarah Hepola
Published October 15, 2008 10:25PM (EDT)

The ACLU is representing five pregnant Detroit police officers who "were forced to go on sick leave when their bosses learned they were pregnant, even if they could perform other duties," according to the Associated Press.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself: What's wrong with that? A pregnant woman shouldn't be out on the street. Fair enough. But one of the plaintiffs, Angelica Robinson, worked a desk job. She was perfectly capable of performing her duties without endangering herself, her baby or society. Besides, many police departments, as standard operating procedure, require pregnant cops (much like injured cops) to work desk jobs or some other kind of administrative detail. There's plenty of police work that doesn't involve chasing thugs and throwing them against chain-link fences. I don't care what you saw on "The Shield."

Bottom line? It's a bad policy. It's so egregious, in fact, that the Michigan state House voted last month 105-2 in favor of a bill that would prevent such inequality. (No one really had to reach far across the aisle on that one.) The bill is currently being considered in the Senate.

Actually, according to my cop source, a more common problem facing pregnant women on the force is that, once relegated to desk duty, they can't take extracurricular details -- working private parties, etc. -- which is a major source of added income for any cop. And who needs added income more than a mom-to-be? So pregnant women too often don't report their pregnancy, hoping to stay on duty for as long as they can without people knowing and, with the best of intentions, tragically end up in harm's way. Perhaps the only thing on the force worse than a cop death is a pregnant-cop death.

But this is a laywoman's perspective. Anyone with more insight on the matter should school me -- and the rest of us -- in the comments section.

Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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