Calling herself "somewhat bitter," a female Arlington police officer has quit the force and charged that the department is ill-equipped to deal with its women in uniform.
The officer, Marcia Gavin, 29, of Falls Church, was suspended with two other women last monthe by Police Chief William K. (Smokey) Stover after they refused to go on a pursesnatching stake out they said was poorly organized and dangerous.
Gavin was reassigned top patrol duty after a three-week suspension without pay. But she said yesterday she was forced to resign because department oficials refused to adjust her new schedule so that she could arrange care for her year-old son.
"Prior to the suspension, there was no problem with conflicting hours because they were willing to make adjustments," said Gavin, who is married to an Arlington police officer who also works a rotating schedule.
"I spent my whole career in Arlington so I'm somewhat bitter. The department never thought of all the issues that would come up when they hired women."
Gavin, a seven-year veteran, is one of 26 female officers in the 377-member department and was one of the first women hired by the Arlington police department.
Stover yesterday declined to comment on Gavin's resignation because her unpaid suspension is being asppealed to a special police advisory committee.
Gavin said that the two other officers suspended with her, Detective Elizabeth LeBaron and Officer Elizabeth Shelton, who also are married to Arlington Policemen, have not encountered the same scheduling problems. Shelton has no children and LeBaron's husband, who is on disability leave, cares for their infant son.
"My quitting is really going to hurt us financially," said Gavin, who noted that she and her husband earn about $36,000 per year and recently bought a townhouse. "We live from paycheck to paycheck." Gavin said shw planned to look for a new job next week.
"It's really an issue of women working," Gavin said. "Women police officers are going to marry other police officers because thaths all they meet. They're going to have children, because thaths only natural. If it means a woman has to lose a job, well, that's an issue of family rights more than women's rights."