No Women Became NYPD Officers Until 1918
This 1908 news photo by Bain News Service shows a Cincinnati suffragette dressed as a policeman. The accompanying captions is “How woman policeman would look making an arrest.” Another photo of the same woman is captioned “the woman cop ‘A Dream.'”
Women becoming police officers in the early 20th century was considered a joke. Well maybe that was the case 100 years ago, but not today. There are now over 6,000 uniformed women police officers in the NYPD and they comprise almost 20% of the police force.
In the early history of the NYPD, women had worked as jail matrons and secretary’s. It was in 1918 that Ellen O’Grady was named a Deputy Police Commissioner and Mary E. Hamilton was appointed a policewoman along with 5 other women.
Some of the original policewomen were assigned to battle the white slave trade (forced prostitution) while other recruits were to work on juvenile delinquency cases.
The policewomen were issued badges, summons books, revolvers and handcuffs. They had the same authority as their male counterparts and surprisingly, received the same $1,200 salary as policemen.
As more women joined the force in the following two years, most of the policewomen were assigned to the city beaches to protect women. Others were given assignments in the Vice Squad, the Missing Persons Bureau and some were to investigate fortune-tellers and midwives. Continue reading