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March 2017 | Volume 10 | Issue 3

In Honor of Women’s History Month, a History of Women in Law Enforcement

1845: Flora Foster was appointed as one of two women matrons at the New York City Prison (the Tombs) and served in that capacity for thirty-six years until her death in 1882.

1890: Marie Owens was one of the first known appointed policewomen in Chicago, Illinois.

1908: Lola Baldwin was the first sworn female police officer, hired by Portland, Oregon.

1916: Constance Kopp was officially hired as New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff, after serving as jail matron and capturing an escaped fugitive at a Brooklyn subway stop in late 1915.

1916: Georgia Ann Robinson was appointed to the LAPD, making her America’s first known African-American policewoman.

1920: Myrtle Siler was elected sheriff in Pittsboro, NC.

1946: Josephine Serrano joined the LAPD, becoming the first known Latina policewoman.

1972: Tanya Padgett, Martha Parks, and Tommie Stewart were sworn in as full police officers in Ann Arbor, MI, one of the first cities in the country to take this step after changes in employment law in 1972 made it illegal for police departments to discriminate on the basis of gender.

1985: Penny Harrington became the first female police chief of major city, in Portland, OR

2004: Heather Fong became first the first Asian-American woman to serve as police chief of a major city, in San Francisco, CA.

Approximately 73,000 women serve as law enforcement officers today, 11.6% of the total.*

FBI Statistic: (
Historic references provided by National Center for Women and Policing and John Jay College.

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