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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
It has been more than 100 years since Alice Stebbin Wells became the first woman to be known as a “police woman” when she joined the Los Angeles Police (California) Department in 1910. In 1985, Penny Harrington of the Portland (Oregon) Police Department became the first female Chief of Police, and today it is estimated that roughly 12.7 percent of officers are women. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the COPS Office is pleased to share perspectives from two of the most influential female law enforcements executives of our era.
Kathleen O’Toole has served as Chief of the Seattle (Washington) Police Department; the first female Commissioner of the Boston (Massachusetts) Police Department; Lieutenant Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police; Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security for the State of Massachusetts; and Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, which oversees the efficient operation of Ireland’s National Police Service. Chief O’Toole (ret.) joins The Beat podcast series to share her experiences and insight.
Valerie Cunningham is the Deputy Chief of the Indianapolis (Indiana) Police Department and is a Past President of the National Association of Women in Law Enforcement. Deputy Chief Cunningham is featured in a newly released episode of the COPS Office’s video series, What’s New In Blue, and offers a view into the world of female officers that is both interesting and informative.
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