Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Recent history

During our trip to Atlanta to appear at our accreditation hearing, I noticed that several of the agencies applying for accreditation were headed by women. Our review committee, in fact, was headed by Elgin, Illinois Chief of Police Lisa Womack. Back in 1992, Austin's Elizabeth Watson was pretty much alone as a municipal police chief, but this has changed hugely in the past ten years, and today women are heading several of the largest police forces in the United States.

Like virtually all cities in the United States, Lincoln did not hire women as uniformed police officers until the mid-1970's. This is not to say there were no female police officers, but they had a separate job title--police woman--different qualifications, and limited duties. Some of Lincoln's police women went on to very successful careers in a number of fields, including Shari Farrar, who retired as Assistant Director of the FBI.

When the first female police officers donned the uniform and began regular patrol duties (in Lincoln, that was 1975), it was an exceptionally challenging path. Women dealt with overt discrimination and harassment that is unfathomable by today's standards. Those who overcame the obstacles are now seasoned police veterans, and it was inevitable that they would rise to command levels.

Today, one in five Lincoln police officers is female, women occupy many of our top command and supervisory positions, and command our SWAT Team and two of the five geographic Teams in the Operations Division. It is one of the most significant and important changes in policing that has occurred during my career.

Back in 1983, someone had the presence of mind to snap this remarkable photo in one of the Team offices. The second shift was reporting to duty, and on that day 25 years ago, the squad was composed of six women and one man.

From the left, that is Kim Cartwright, Jayme Reed, Joy Citta, Lauri Hanson, Ann Heermann, Sara Koziol, and Dan Dwyer.


Anonymous said...

Yikes...a County Sheriff, an LPD Captain, two LPD Sgt's., a Community College CJ Instructor...and Dan...who I think eventually went "Fed". How things have changed over the years. NOW, who was the first UNIFORMED female police officer at LPD?? Thinkings caps on please.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 6:03-

Too easy. I won't even play.

Anonymous said...

Are there any female pirates?

Anonymous said...

EOE is alive and well
Much writing was saved with a bit of editing.

Anonymous said...

1st uniformed female police officer...Linda Steinman?

My 16 year old daughter was amazed by this article. 1975 wasn't that long ago, she remarked. I was her age back then. A lot has changed, when I compare her childhood against mine.

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 1:56-

Thanks you playing, but no, it wasn't Det. Sgt. Steinman. Linda was, however, the first female uniformed sergeant, so that's a credible guess.

YPD011 said...

First uniformed female police officer: Hulda Roper

Anonymous said...

I don't know about LPD, but I can tell you who the first female sheriff's deputy was: Margaret Miller, in 1961.

Tom Casady said...


I think not. The title of her biography, No Gun for This Lady! is probably dispositive, and is confirmed by two mentions in the History of the Lincoln Police Department (see pages 29, 56). There is no indication that she ever wore a uniform or carried a gun.

Hulda Roper appears to be the first person to hold the job title of "police woman", though. Prior to her employment, women who held similar positions at LPD were known by the anachronistic job title "Matron." Plenty of Hulda's coworkers are still around, and can correct me if I am wrong, but I'd say ix-nay on ulda-Hay.

Hulda, by the way, gave a great speech at the dedication of the school named in her honor.

ed359 said...

Using your timeline my best guess would be Shelli Zalman. She was hired in 1975 and I think she was the first woman hired as a police officer. But the woman in question could be Linda Steinman, my memory fades. Could you name the three current female operational team captains for me?

Tom Casady said...


Nice try, you're getting very, very warm. Shelley, however, was number two. Don't think you'll find this in any history book.

Capt. Kim Koluch commands the SWAT Team and the Southeast Team, Capt. Genelle Moore commands the Northwest Team. I'll reword it a little bit--I admit it was a double-count.

Anonymous said...

Well Tom...it appears that you and I finally think alike. I thought most would pick Shelly but,alas Ed...she was NOT the first UNIFORMED police officer. Here's a hint....she was initially a dispatcher....

signed: anony 6:03

Anonymous said...

Much has changed at LPD within the last 25 years. It's clear from the photo however that the uniforms have not. The same "French Blue" is worn by officers today and likely was for some time before the photo. For a department known for innovation and progressive thinking, the 1970's threads are surprising. I couldn't help but notice in a recent post regarding the Council Bluffs, IA PD that the photo depicted an apparent variety of options for their street personnel. They wore short sleeve polo-type shirts and BDU's. I also noticed on a recent visit to LPD from the Tulsa,OK PD that they wore BDU's and similar style shirts.
Chief, the bottom line is that LPD's uniforms are ugly, uncomfortable, impractical and expensive. I don't know who the first female uniformed officer at LPD was, but I bet she wore the same uniform I do. I anticipate that you would respond with a break down of how much it would set the city back to outfit the department and that it is cost prohibitive. Many at LPD would counter with the fact that if you would make the comfort, safety and well-being of the street officer a priority, it could be done. Transition in new uniforms over a course of time. Until then, it's "one-adam-twelve.....see the man..."

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 7:33

If you're about to propose Wendy as the first uniformed female Lincoln police officer, don't. Thanks for playing, though!

Anonymous 8:04

Yikes! Now that antiquated uniform is a matter of officer safety--and I'm neglecting your comfort AND your safety.

Would you please get real? Except for the two bike officers in the foreground, those officers in the Council Bluffs photo are sitting in lineup wearing a uniform almost identical to ours but for the color of the shirt. Good grief, police officers virtually everywhere are wearing slacks and shirts from exactly the same manufacturers, unless they're in some kind of specialized assignment like canine, bikes, etc. etc..

There's a gazillion photos of Tulsa police officers on their website, and it looks like nobody's wearing BDUs on normal duty. Pretty much the same uniform, only solid navy. About the only thing I'm seeing consistently in the rest of the U.S. are some new styles of slacks with side pockets--but certainly not BDUs. (I like sme of the slacks, BTW).

For the record, though, I think were overdue for a uniform update. If I had my choice, we'd go to solid navy, lose the stripe, and drop the clarino. Sorry I can't come up with the cash, and that you think it's nothing significant. I guess you haven't heard about the budget problems facing the city. And yes, I am going to give you a cost breakdown. That's reality. This is a reprint from the Chief's Corner last August:

"Seriously, I think we are due for a uniform overhaul, and there's a lot of new product out there that is pretty nice from a functionality standpoint and still looks sharp.

Matter of money:

4 trousers x 317 x $80 = $101,440
8 shirts x 317 x $60 = $152,160
1 jacket x 317 x $180 = $57,060
1 duty rig x 317 x 276 = $87,492

Total: $398,052, plus a little bit for a working stock. :-0"

August 9, 2007 3:25 PM

March 26, 2008 6:40 AM

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 804.

We will be lucky if we get a raise this year. Wear your poly's with pride and drop the uniform over haul. That has been a discussion for the past decade or so and it ain't happening.

Prairie Dog said...

Food for thought with uniforms. If you take the last hundered years of law enforcement there is a constant complaint.

Reason one: The weight of the belt is increased.
Reason two: As officers age fitness may descrease which loosens the core muscles and stresses the back as weight is gained.

Okay the complaint is to be that snappy and functional looking officer for the lowest price possible.

Add up your disability payments on lower back related injuries the city pays out that MAY be related to years of service on a gunbelt.

Keep following me, I am almost there. Take a crew of those lovely UNL interns on east campus who are in the textiles program and design a function duty vest which holds equipment.

If Chicago and London Metro can have such vests that are in service today wouldn't it be nice to tag your name onto a piece of equipment that LPD that is up to date and professional working without the overbearing military look of a SWAT team.

So an intern make the item and it is marketed to a maker and LPD gets a reduced price.

Gone now is the disability paying clorino belt with all the gear ergonomically distributed on the officer.

Yes, I have heard about an offier making an under the uniform belt. It is a temporary gizmo that aids for now.

What ever happened to inginuity and enterprise in law enforcement. Build a case of fiscal responsibility of being a steward to teh publics funds being spent to its maximum.

So, you can outfit a department. Lower disability payouts. Maintain a professional image and put another bugler to play in the LPD is a flag ship department band.

Invest in your officers well being and the dividend will payout on their service to the public.

Anonymous said...

Pretty crazy to think we need 317 of everything.

Tom Casady said...

Prairie dog,

Such equipment vests already exist, and as you note, are widely used by thousands of police officers in the UK (where, I might add, you'll find plenty of rank-and-file bellyaching about vests). Seems various forces use different vests of varying quality and features. Just like the States, I suspect, everyone likes what the other force has, until they have it.

Pretty warm, I would think, and you've got a firearm to deal with in the US, unlike the UK. Worth looking into, if we ever have the cash to consider a significant uniform makeover.

I've seen Chicago officers wearing external body armor in a carrier designed to look like a uniform shirt, but I've never seen anyone with what I'd call an equipment vest.

Overall, I think the UK police uniform options contain some very nice pieces--high-viz is everywhere, but so is fleece and vests. There are some nice photos in this policy document from the Gwent Police.

Anonymous said...

Chief are there any differences in Male and Female dress codes at LPD. Such as hair length, jewelry, etc. In this day and age how does it get justified.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea.... pack horses.

Anonymous said...

Chief are there any differences in Male and Female dress codes at LPD. Such as hair length, jewelry, etc. In this day and age how does it get justified.

No they can wear their hair anyway they want and have any jewelry they seem fit. The big difference is how proud the Chief is when he promotes and gives power to a woman! He is EOE all the way and doesn't care who he steps on to make his organization appear to be the best EOE place on the planet.

Hey Chief how about rewarding people of any sex,race or belief that work hard and are honest for once instead of your current policy of reward EOE and Affrimative Action?

Anonymous said...