When people mention law enforcement, people usually invasion a male figure, but the law enforcement field and women, is an ever-developing matter, like countless other professions considered male dominated. Today we are realize the rewards of having both female and male officers working together. However, it took time for this concept to progress.
The addition of women police officers in law enforcement, has received assorted reactions from the public and police officers alike. I will examine the history of women police officers as well as explore the development and need for women police officers for an effective police department and why the inclusion of women police officers should be carried out to ensure a more diverse police culture.
In the beginning, women began working in law enforcement as matrons. Their work often fell along the lines of social work duties, working primarily with women and children, often hired by departments after being widowed from a fallen officer.
Over the course of many years, and on a fraction on the scale today, women struggle for recognition and advancement in police departments.
For example, the first sworn female police officer from Portland, Oregon, Lola Baldwin, whom started off with minimal responsibilities. Her job duties were largely of a social work nature, such as protecting young women working at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905. Fortunately, in 1908, her success in that task led her to be sworn in as a fellow officer with the authority to conduct arrests. (Bennett, 2018)
Following suit, in 1910, the Los Angeles Police Department swore in Alice Wells as the country’s first “policewoman” and was assigned to their Juvenile department.
There she was required to handle all female and juvenile cases in addition to investigating social conditions that led women and children to become involved in crime. (Bennett, 2018) In 1912, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department swore in Margaret Adams. The position was offered by her brother-in-law Sheriff William A. Hammel. She stated she would only accept the offer if she would be deputized. Sheriff Hammel agreed and soon after Margaret was the nations’ first female deputy sheriff. However, her responsibilities typically involved evidence processing. (Walker, 2006).
During the Great Depression and World War II, approximately 1930-1940s, women’s progression in law enforcement came to a halt do to having to directly compete with men for jobs. Though they were able to continue to work in law enforcement it was more in the support capacity with roles such as dispatch and other desk oriented responsibilities. (FMFNC, 2013)
In the 1950s women in law enforcement moved from behind the desk and out onto the streets with the male police officers. There are many causes for this advancement, but most of the credit went into the formation of the International Association of Women Police in 1956 and police departments increased battle with prostitution and illegal drug sales in the 1960s. This new war on drugs allowed for the expansion and the need for more female police officers to assist with specialized operations, such as prostitution, narcotic sales, etc. (FMFNC, 2013)
In the 1970s the existence of women police officers in law enforcement became progressively recognized overall by the public because in 1972 the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was executed, prohibiting gender discrimination in public agencies, police departments alike, breaking the glass ceiling to further develop opportunities for women in law enforcement, later establishing several law enforcement associations devoted to women. (FMFNC, 2013)
Over the last few decades, women police officers have brought a unique face to policing. They have experienced trials and struggles to be acknowledged and respected in the various capacities of policing.