View Full Version : Friday Trivia: Female Police Officers

Star lover
June 8th, 2018, 07:14 AM
The first female police officer in the United States was Marie Owens, who joined the Chicago P.D. in the 1890s working primarily on abuses of child labor laws. She was, as the Chicago Tribune said, "the only woman detective sergeant in the world," but she was just the first. She retired in 1923.

Marie Connolly was born the daughter of Irish famine immigrants in Bytown (later renamed Ottawa), on December 21, 1853. She married gas fitter Thomas Owens in 1879, and they moved to Chicago soon thereafter. Together they had five children before Thomas died of typhoid fever in 1888. Marie was widowed with five mouths to feed; her youngest was just a couple of years old. As she told the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1904, up until this point she had never "earned a penny" in her life.

She entered the workforce with a bang the next year. In 1889, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance prohibiting the employment of children under 14 years old unless they had extraordinary circumstances requiring them to work. To enforce the ordinance, the city hired five women as sanitary inspectors to monitor conditions in stores, factories, and tenements.

In 1891, the newly appointed Chief of Police, Major Robert Wilson McClaughrey—a tireless reformer with a particular interest in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders—took notice of Mrs. Owens's efforts in tracking down wife deserters—men we now call deadbeat dads. Owens was relentless in ferreting these men out and turning them into the police, so much so that McClaughrey decided to employ Owens in the detective bureau.

Marie Connolly Owens:


Lola Greene Baldwin became a police officer in Portland, Oregon, in 1908. She retired in 1922.

In 1904, Portland officials were preparing for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. Among their concerns was a possible influx of non-resident criminals to the city. Officials feared some would target young women and girls, and lure or coerce them into sexual activity, including prostitution. As part of the exposition preparations, women's groups, including the Travelers Aid Society, the YWCA, and many local secular and religious organizations, made plans to prevent the sexual exploitation of young women during the fair.

The Portland YWCA hired Baldwin as project supervisor with funds provided partly by the national Travelers Aid committee.

After the fair ended, Baldwin retained a position with the local Travelers Aid branch, based at the YWCA. Over the next three years, she continued the kinds of work she had done during the exposition, often helping runaways and young women with legal troubles. Supported by Mayor Harry Lane and the Portland police, she eventually convinced the City Council to create and fund what was formally named the Women's Auxiliary to the Police Department for the Protection of Girls, later renamed the Women's Protective Division (WPD). On April 1, 1908, she was sworn in as superintendent of the auxiliary with the rank of detective.


In 1910, Alice Stebbins Wells joined the Los Angeles Police Department. She received a badge, a rulebook and a first-aid manual, but she had to design and sew her own uniform. She retired in 1940.

Wells joined the Los Angeles Police Department after a long battle of petitioning with many citizens who supported her or that she persuaded. With such a huge community reaction the mayor, police commissioner, and the Los Angeles city council had no other excuse but to let Alice become the first policewoman in the LAPD and was classified under civil service. Wells went on to become the founder and first president of the International Policewomen's Association and traveled throughout America and Canada to promote female officers.


All three specialized in law enforcement related to women and children.

June 8th, 2018, 07:21 AM
And she was Canadian to boot, hehe!

Star lover
June 8th, 2018, 07:27 AM
I had to add the Canadian connection for all those here that hail from Canada! Love you guys!

June 8th, 2018, 10:20 AM
Fascinating. Strong women.

June 8th, 2018, 10:29 AM
Did anyone watch 'The Alienist' that was on TNT? Dakota Fanning played a first woman police officer in New York. The story line was a little gruesome, but very fascinating.