Policewomen’s Endowment Association
Village Station
P.O. Box 334
New York, NY 10014-0334
                                              
The History of Women in the NYPD


The story of women in the NYPD begins in 1845 women were
employed as jail matrons, and in 1891 when women are hired as
Police Matrons.  Their duties included searching female prisoners
and supervising their care, as well as taking care of lost children.  
The role of women increased to assignments as investigators in
1903 and in 1912 Isabella Goodwin was promoted to First Grade
Detective.  Investigation of Vice and Gambling was added to
women’s duties.

In 1917 under the war emergency powers of the Police
Commissioner, women were appointed as Protective Officers.  On
January 28, 1918 Ellen O’Grady was appointed the first female
Deputy Commissioner of the Welfare Bureau.  The function of which
was the protection and prevention of crimes against women and
children.  In August 1918 the first six Policewomen were appointed,
they were paid $1,200 per year and carried a revolver, handcuffs
and summonses, but did not were a uniform.  In 1921, Mary
Hamilton was appointed Director in charge of the new Women’s
Police Precinct, which was changed to the Women’s Bureau in
1924.  Also, in 1921 the Policewomen’s Endowment Association was
founded by Mary Sullivan, Rose Taylor, Ada Barry, Mary McGuire
and Minnie Ernest.  In 1934 women have pistol practice with male
officers.  On February 7, 1935, Police Commissioner Lewis J.
Valentine establishes the first uniform for women.  In 1935, Mary
Shanley aka Dead Shot Mary was assigned to the Detective Bureau
Pick Pocket Squad and was later promoted to First Grade Detective
with more than 1,000 arrests.

On May 21, 1938 the first civil service exam for the title of
Policewoman was given, 11,000 women filed to take the exam and
3,700 took the exam, including, a doctor, a boxer, an attorney, a
writer, a newspaper woman and a private investigator.  Gertrude
Schimmel takes this exam at the age of 20 years old.  She took her
first fight for her rights to the NYC Civil Service Commission by
petitioning the Commissioner Paul J. Kern to change the age
requirement from 21 years old at date of application for the exam to
date of appointment to Policewomen. She received a letter inviting
her to the exam and the wording of age at date of appointment was
used on all subsequent civil service police exams. The list for
Policewoman from that exam was 323 women.  In March 1939, 20
women entered the Police Academy.  Gertrude Schimmel was #3
on the list and was skipped over because she was not yet 21 years
old and she was appointed June 5, 1940 as one of 18 women and
300 men.  It became known as the famous class of 1940, the first big
post depression class with over 200 college graduates.  The group
of 1940 produced a Police Commissioner, a Chief Inspector equal to
Chief of Department today, and scores were promoted to Captain
and above, only six remained in the rank of Patrolman.  The exam
for men and women listed the base salary at $2,000 and rising to
$3,000 in five years.  Mayor La Guardia cut the base salary to $1,200
for probationary period of the first six months and rising to $2,000
base salary.  The class of 1940 with several lawyers in their group,
took action against the Mayor and won, restoring it to $2,000 and
rising to $3,000 in five years.  During the protest period the men and
women were advised to sign their payroll sheet under protest so
they would be reimbursed that money upon their settlement.  
Gertrude Schimmel, subsequently for her entire career signed her
payroll slip in protest just in case of any other settlements.  In 1942,
women are held to a higher standard than men and are required to
have a College Degree.  In 1943, Mayor La Guardia issued the first
combination gun and make-up shoulder bag which contained a
holster for a .38 revolver, a lipstick in medium red, a compact and a
red plastic case of dry rouge.  Mayor La Guardia is quoted as
saying, “Use the gun as you would your lipstick, use it only when
you need it, and use it intelligently.  Don’t overdo either one.  Be
quick on the trigger when you have to be.”  In 1958, all police
appointees, male and female attend the Police Academy for six
months training.

In 1961, Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel sued for the right
of women to take promotional exams.  The case was taken to the
NY Supreme Court with one judge where they won and the city
appealed.  Then to the NY State Appellate Division with five judges
where they unanimously won and the city once again appealed.  
And, finally to the NY Court of Appeals with seven judges where
they won unanimously and in 1963 won the right for woman to take
promotional exams.  Gertrude Schimmel is quoted as saying, “It
took 13 judges to tell us what we as women always knew, that we
had the right to promotion.” 1964, 126 women took the Sergeants
Exam.  In 1965, Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel were the
first women promoted to Sergeant.  In 1967, Felicia Shpritzer and
Gertrude Schimmel were the first women promoted to Lieutenant.  
In 1971, Gertrude Schimmel was the first woman promoted to
Captain, and subsequently the first woman promoted to Deputy
Inspector in 1972, Inspector in 1974 and to Deputy Chief in 1978.  
Gertrude Schimmel today is 93 years old and an active participant
and supporter of the Policewomen’s Endowment Association.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) opens membership
to Policewomen in 1968.  1972 is a year for change throughout our
Nation and in the NYPD.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is amended
by congress, prohibiting State and Local government from
discriminating on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender.  To meet
these new legal requirements 15 women were assigned to patrol
duty.  In 1973, the titles of Patrolman and Policewomen are officially
consolidated to one title Police Officer and the first gender neutral
civil service exam was given.  More than 350 women were hired
and more than half of them were assigned to patrol duties.  In 1974,
the first female was assigned to ESU, Police Officer Helen
Knedlhans.  In 1976, Captain Vittoria Renzullo became the first
women to be assigned as a Commanding Officer of a Precinct, at
the 1st Precinct in Manhattan.

The decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s saw a lot of change and many
more firsts for women in the Department.  In 1984 Police Officer
Irma Lozada was the first female officer shot and killed in the line of
duty.  In 1984, the first woman was assigned to Highway Patrol Unit,
Police Officer Christine Legrottaglie.  In 1985 Police Officer Leslie
Myer became the first woman assigned to the Mounted Unit.  In
1988, Police Officer Mary Lowery became the first woman assigned
to the Aviation Unit.  In 1988, Sergeant Helen Rinaldi became the
first woman assigned as a Commanding Officer of a Detective
Squad.  In 1992, Captain Kathy E. Ryan became the first woman
Commanding Officer of the Mounted Unit. In 1992, Detective Karen
Engdahl is the first female assigned to the Bomb Squad. In 1994,
Captain Joyce A. Stephen, became the first woman African
American to be assigned as the Commanding Officer of a Precinct,
the 28 Precinct in Manhattan.  In 1995, Gertrude La Forgia, becomes
the first female Assistant Chief, Borough Commander.  In 1995,
Deputy Chief JoEllen Kunkel is the first Commanding Officer of a
Narcotics Borough.  In 2002, Deputy Chief Diana L. Pizzuti is the first
female Commanding Officer of the Police Academy.  In August
2003,  Joanne Jaffe becomes the first 3 star Chief, Chief of the
Housing Bureau, the highest rank held by a woman to date in the
history of the NYPD.


The following time line can be used as a quick reference.

1845-first women employed as jail matrons

1891-first women hired as Police Matrons

1892-Police Matrons required for every Precinct

1895-first female to work at Police Headquarters, Minnie Gertrude
Kelly appointed Secretary to the Police Board

1903-first women assigned as investigators

1912-women to investigate Vice and Gambling, Isabella Goodwin
the first woman appointed as First Grade Detective

1917-Two women assigned special Patrolwomen’s Badges

1918-Ellen O’Grady appointed first female Deputy Commissioner

1918-Six women appointed as Policewomen

1919- Cora I. Parchment is the first African American woman to join
the NYPD

1921-the Policewomen’s Endowment Association founded

1921-Mary Hamilton was appointed Director in charge of the new
Women’s Police Precinct, which was changed to the Women’s
Bureau in 1924

1934-Women have pistol practice with male officers

1935-First uniform for women established by Police Commissioner
Lewis J. Valentine

1938-First civil service exam for the title Policewoman

1939-First class of twenty women sworn in as Policewoman

1940-Second class of eighteen women sworn in as Policewoman,
Gertrude Schimmel is one of them

1942-Requirement of college for female officers

1943-Mayor La Guardia issues the first combination gun and
makeup shoulder handbag

1961-Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel file a law suit for the
right to take promotional exams

1963- Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel win in NY Court of
Appeals

1964-126 women take the Sergeants exam for the first time

1965- Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel are first women
promoted to Sergeant

1967- Felicia Shpritzer and Gertrude Schimmel are first women
promoted to Lieutenant

1967-180 women from the Policewomen’s Bureau assigned to
Precincts

1970-First females allowed to take the test for Police Administrative
Aide

1971- Gertrude Schimmel the first woman promoted to Captain

1972- Gertrude Schimmel the first woman promoted to Deputy
Inspector

1972-First females hired from the list for Police Administrative Aide

1972-Fifteen women assigned to patrol duties, equal to the men,
Lucille Burrascano is one of the 15 pictured in the photograph of
two women in the RMP

1973-first gender neutral civil service exam for the title Police
Officer

1973-Policewomen’s Bureau is abolished

1974- Gertrude Schimmel the first woman promoted to Inspector

1976- Captain Vittoria Renzullo became the first women to be
assigned as a Commanding Officer of a Precinct

1976-Detective Mary Glatzle awarded the Medal of Valor

1977-First nine females assigned to the Homicide Unit

1978-Gertrude Schimmel is the first woman promoted to Deputy
Chief

1982-Suzanne Medicis is the first female to receive the Combat
Cross

1984-Tanya Braithwaite are the first female to receive the Medal of
Honor

1984-Police Officer Irma Lozada was the first female officer shot and
killed in the line of duty

1984-first woman was assigned to Highway Patrol Unit, Police
Officer Christine Legrottaglie

1985- Police Officer Leslie Myer became the first woman assigned
to the Mounted Unit

1988- Police Officer Mary Lowery became the first woman assigned
to the Aviation Unit

1988- Sergeant Helen Rinaldi became the first woman assigned as a
Commanding Officer of a Detective Squad

1992-Captain Kathy E. Ryan became the first woman Commanding
Officer of the Mounted Unit

1992- Detective Karen Engdahl is the first female assigned to the
Bomb Squad

1994- Captain Joyce A. Stephen, became the first woman African
American to be assigned as the Commanding Officer of a Precinct

1995- Gertrude La Forgia, becomes the first female Assistant Chief,
Borough Commander

1997- Deputy Chief JoEllen Kunkel is the first Commanding Officer
of a Narcotics Borough

2001-Police Officer Moira Smith is the only female NYPD member of
the service killed in the line of duty at the World Trade Center on
September 11, 2001

2002- Deputy Chief Diana L. Pizzuti is the first female Commanding
Officer of the Police Academy

2003-Joanne Jaffe becomes the first 3 star Chief, Chief of the
Housing Bureau, the highest rank held by a woman to date in the
history of the NYPD