Woman Rynders, Kathy


Police officer

Written by Susan Harwood, Susan Harwood and Associates Quality Consultancy Services; Australasian Council of Women and Policing and Helen McDermott, Australasian Council of Women and Policing

After completion of her secondary schooling, Kathy Rynders studied an Arts degree at the University of Queensland with a view to becoming a secondary school teacher. However during the final year of her study, she discontinued this path and joined policing on a spur of the moment whim in 1975. Despite her father being a Police Officer, this had never been a goal for Kathy. She was the first officer with a degree to join the Service and remembers with amazement the comments she received from fellow recruits who could not understand why a graduate would join the police.

For many years, Kathy performed duty in general areas, including Traffic Branch and later as a Police Prosecutor. She had no particular goals as promotion was by seniority and she was a long way down the ladder. She continued her studies and gained a Graduate Diploma in Management and Bachelor of Social Sciences (Policing Studies). As a result of the findings of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Police, internal practices were changed and police officers were subsequently promoted on a merit-based system. In 1990 Kathy was one of five women who were the first women promoted to the rank of Inspector; a move which was perceived as tokenistic by many in the media as well as the Police Service.

After a 12 month stint as the Staff Officer to a Deputy Commissioner, Kathy was appointed as a Regional Duty Officer in South Eastern Region where she developed her long lasting commitment to the Logan District, one of the busiest and most challenging in the State. This role only lasted six months before she was seconded to the Police Academy to set up a distance education framework for police, linked to the payroll and promotion system. After developing the format and assessment processes she handed the Competency Acquisition Program over to permanent staff. She also worked in a number of other programs but requested a return to operational policing two years later.

Returning to the Logan District she spent the next two years developing strong links with the local community and staff. In 1996 she was the first woman appointed to the role of District Officer. She was transferred to Gold Coast District but after 12 months was able to transfer back to Logan District as the officer-in-charge. Kathy developed strong links with the Local Council and the Logan Women's Health Centre working to enhance community safety, particularly for women. She also developed a number of initiatives to relieve the pressure on operational staff through a negotiated response to non-urgent calls for service.

Kathy undertook further professional development through the completion of two courses at the Institute of Police Management in Sydney. In 1997 she was awarded the Australian Police Medal. As the first woman appointed to the role of Chief Superintendent in charge of Education and Training, she was responsible for two police academies and Chelmer Police College. In 2001 Kathy was appointed to the rank of Assistant Commissioner - another first for women in policing. Her initial posting was at the Criminal Justice Commission where she was responsible for the Witness Protection Program and a range of other functions within the Commission. It was a challenging position in that she was required to juggle two discrete roles: she was answerable to the Chair of the Commission as well as to the Police Commissioner for different aspects of her responsibilities.

Later in 2001 Kathy transferred back to operational policing in charge of Metro South Region. In addition to her operational duties, she was tasked with responsibility for developing a business case for the establishment of a facility to take some of the pressure off operational police. Policelink was based on the principles she had established many years earlier at Logan and now handles thousands of non urgent matters based on a Call Centre approach which also incorporated the crime reporting function.

In 2006 the Australasian Council of Women and Policing Inc (ACWAP) awarded Kathy Rynders the 'Most Outstanding Female Leader' award at an Annual Awards Dinner. Her nomination quoted her as saying: 'too many women try to change to fit into the male culture'. She is known as someone who has negotiated policing in her own way and who has had a distinguished policing career. She is a dynamic and innovative leader who has made a real difference to how women are policed. Kathy was well respected for how she worked collaboratively with the community, showing that policing is about providing a service and being a partner with the community, not a force attempting to control a community.

In 2008, when Kathy was appointed to the rank of Deputy Commissioner in charge of Regional Operations she was the first woman to be appointed at this rank. In this role, she travelled to all corners of the State, talking to staff about their issues, reviewing station and accommodation needs and working closely with the corporate services arm of QPS in enhancing service delivery and the wellbeing of staff.

Kathy retired from QPS in 2010 after 35 years' service. Her achievements were driven in part by her desire to prove that women could take on the most challenging roles in policing and be successful. She also credits her success to the support she received from many of her colleagues and other women in policing as well as a strong network of friends. She strongly believes that managers need to earn the respect of those around them and that together there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Published Resources


See also

Digital Resources

Kathy Rynders: ABC Local: Conversations with Richard Fidler
23 June 2010
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)