Women and the Baltimore Police Department

Musuem  15

Timeline of some of Baltimore's Women in Law Enforcement


In the 1915 BPD Rules and Regulations a Police Woman job was described as

Rule 20 Page 48-49

Matrons of the Police Force (Policewomen)

1. Matrons of the Police Force (Policewomen), are conservators of the peace and members of the Force; they are amenable to the rules and regulations of the Department in so far as the rules and regulations respectively apply, subject to such modifications thereof, as may from time to time be defined by the Board of Police Commissioners or the Marshall in special and general orders.

2. They will report direct to the Marshal, and will perform such special and general duties and make such reports as may be from time to time directed by the Board of Police Commissioners, or the Marshal.

3. Matrons to the Force (Policewomen), shall serve on probation for one year.

 

Time Line

 

1912 - The first Women Officer was hired under the title of Policewomen was Mary S. Harvey, EOD of June 19, 1912 her hiring was followed by that of Margaret B. Eagleston July 22, 1912
1914 -17 October 1914 - The first female officer shot in the line of duty was Policewoman Elizabeth Faber. As she and her partner, Patrolman George W. Popp were attempting to arrest a pick pocket on the Edmondson Avenue Bridge they were both shot.
1925 28 March 1925 - Two female members of department were given their first lesson in pistol shooting. Baltimore policewomen received their first lesson in the use of firearms. Lieut. James O. Downes, expert marksman and instructor of the Baltimore Police Department's Pistol Team, explained the use of pistols to the two policewomen. Mrs. Mary J. Bruff and Miss Margaret B. Eagleston were the students who appeared at the Central police station yesterday.
1937 - First African American female Violet Hill Whyte, became Baltimore Police Department's first African American female officer hired. She worked out of the Western District for her 30 year career with the department, rose to the rank of Lieutenant. She was promoted to Sergeant in 1955 and Lieutenant in 1967. During her career she never missed a day of work.
1937 - Four females were promoted to the rank of Sergeant, Mrs. Bessie C. Cronin, Ms. Mae E. Lillie, Ms. Clara Lynch and Ms. Margaret Ryan. First time in Baltimore Police History that a female made the rank of Sergeant.
1953 - Mrs. Mary E. Hoy, Baltimore City Police Crossing Guard received the department's highest award “The Medal of Honor.” During that time School Crossing Guards were employees of the Baltimore Police Department.
1969 - In May of 1969, we have our first father/daughter on police department. Officer James F. Stevens and Police woman Patricia A. Loveless

1969 - In October of 1969, we have our first female officer honored by the Criminal Justice Commission. Police Woman Mercedes Rankin
1970 - Helen Mackall - Crossing Guard was awarded the Medal of Honor, first African American women to be awarded the medal, she lost her leg saving a child that was almost ran over. During that time School Crossing Guards were employees of the Baltimore Police Department.
1973 - 11 June 1973 - The Civil Service Commission authorized the single classification of "Police Officer" to replace the dual designation "Policeman / Patrolman" and "Policewoman / Patrolwoman". This reclassification was a continuation of the department's efforts in the area of equal employment opportunity. (Female "Police Officers" now had the same prerogatives and responsibilities as their male counterparts. Now only one competitive test for promotions is necessary. Thus, a single career ladder was established for all sworn members.)
1978 - 24 October 1978 Baltimore Police promoted the First Woman Police Major, Lt. Patricia Mullen, elevated two grades as she became Major Patricia Mullen. Promoted from Lieutenant of the Homicide Unit, Major Mullen was put in charge of Youth Section.
1979 - Officer Linda Flood became the first female to assign to plain clothes in the newly formed Stop Squad, which was responsible for arresting street level drug dealers. She did not stop there; she would later become the first female aerial observer in the helicopter unit.
1981 - Janice West became the first female officer assigned to the Mounted Unit.
1982 - Police Officer Kathy Adams is the first female officer to become a member of our QRT (Baltimore's SWAT).

1983 - 15 January 1983 - The First Woman Promoted to District Commander - Major Bessie R Norris, was promoted to Major and assumed her duties as Commander of the Southwestern District
1983 - July 30, 1983 - The First Female K9 officer is assigned. Officer Charlene M. Jenkins is handler to Max
1984 Police Officer Donna M. Cooper was shot on November 2, 1984 and was the first female officer to be awarded the Citation of Valor.
2002 Police Officer Crystal Deneen Sheffield was the first female officer to die in the line of Duty and also awarded the “Medal of Honor.”
2010 - Deputy Commissioner Deborah Owens was the highest ranking female in the Department and the only female to reach that rank.
2011 - Officer Latosha Tinsley would be the first surviving female officer to be awarded the “Medal of Honor.”

 

We know this list is incomplete, we need more info, so if you have info, a first, or dates of when a unit, or event took place that involves our Women in Baltimore's Police Department; Please do not hesitate in getting that information to Kenny or me. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Baltimore City Police Department's First, and Second Policewomen

The first women hired under the title of, "Policewomen" by Baltimore City was Mary S. Harvey, EOD of June 19, 1912 followed by Margaret B. Eagleston July 22, 1912. She traveled the world to inspect how other departments were using female officers and reported back to the Marshal of Police. Mrs. Harvey, she passed away on March 26, 1934 in Tyron, Craven County, NC. Ms Eagleston who was the second female officer hired, July 22, 2912, passed away on October 3, 1929 while she was still active in the BPD. Policewomen at that time were assigned to HQ under the Police Marshal, and mostly dealt with Social problems, children, other types of crime involving women, as well as challenged individuals.


In 1914 the first woman officer to be shot in the line of duty within our agency was Elizabeth Faber she was shot 18 Oct 1914 on the Edmondson Avenue Bridge (Officer Faber survived her injuries, but resigned less than a year later due to those injuires, and some what might today be called PTS or PTSD - Women on the force at that time would not become armed until 1925; a full 11 years after the shooting of this officer, and 13 years after the first woman officer was hired. They were true pioneers in the Baltimore Police Force).

 ACC 138 BS 72 
Sun Paper Photo by Ellis Malashuk

 March 28, 1925 - Baltimore Sun Paper

Policewomen Receive -  Firearms Instruction
Two female members of department given first lesson in pistol shooting. Baltimore policewomen yesterday received in their first lesson in the use of firearms. Lieut. James O. Downes, expert marksman and instructor of the Baltimore Police Department's Pistol Team, explained the use of pistols to the two policewomen. Mrs. Mary J. Bruff and Miss Margaret B. Eagleston were the students who appeared at the Central police station yesterday. Several minutes later the basement of the building resounded with sharp reports (sounds of gunfire) as efforts were made to pierce the "Bull's-eye". The target was 6 feet in distance from the policewomen. Other policewomen will receive their first lesson next week. The distance of the target will be increased as Lieut. Downes plans to make each of five expert shots. With the exception of Mrs. Mary Harvey none of the policewomen are familiar with firearms. The others are Miss Eva Aldridge and Ms. Mildred Campbell.

Lt Whyte72First African American Female Hired


In 1937 Violet Hill Whyte became the BPD's first African American officer hired by the force. She was assigned to the Northwestern / Western District for her entire career. In 1955 she was promoted to Sergeant and in 1967 she was promoted to Lieutenant, and retired shortly afterward. In The Afro American News Paper they wrote of her - Baltimore's first Black Policewoman, Lieutenant Violet Hill Whyte, 88 died July 17 1980 at the Keswick nursing home where she had been since November 1979. Born in Washington, DC Violet Whyte was the daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs Daniel Hill. She was a graduate of Douglass High School and Coppin Teachers College. When she joined the force, she was assigned to the Northwestern District. (The old Western District) Her promotion to Sergeant took place in October 1955 and in the following February she was transferred to the Pine Street station. When the new Western station was opened in August 1959 she was named to head its detail of police women. Lieutenant Whyte never wore a uniform and was seldom armed; she worked on a variety of cases on narcotics, robbery, homicides, child abuse, and sexual delinquency. During her 30 years on the force, Lieutenant Whyte never missed a day from work and was willing to go out and work at all hours because she recognized the problems. In a 1963 AFRO-AMERICAN newspaper clipping, Lieutenant Violet Whyte stated "I'm not afraid of work, my first case was to investigate a homicide and it was successful.” Lieutenant Whyte stated she found it easy to overcome racial antagonism. She received special training in police work in various seminars and universities. She served as commission to study problems of delinquency. During her 30 years on the police force, she proved that time and time again by working 16 to 20 hour days, often starting at 6 a.m. She collected clothing for prison inmates and needy people, made holiday baskets for the needy and counseled delinquent children and their families.

In an Afro American news paper report they wrote of her - 

KSCN0036i72


Baltimore's first Black Policewoman, Sgt. Violet Hill Whyte, 88 died July 17 1980 at the Keswick nursing home where she had been since November 1979.
Born in Washington, DC Sgt. Whyte was the daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs Daniel Hill. She was a graduate of Douglass High School and Coppin Teachers College. When she joined the force, she was assigned to the Northwestern District. (The old Western District) Her promotion to Sergeant took place in October 1955 and in the following February she was transferred to the Pine Street station. When the new Western station was opened in August 1959 she was named to head its detail of police women. Sgt. Whyte never wore a uniform and was seldom armed, she worked on a variety of cases on narcotics, robbery, homicides, child abuse, and sexual delinquency. During her 30 years on the force, Sgt. Whyte never missed a day from work and was willing to go out and work at all hours because she recognized the problems. In 1963 AFRO clipping Sgt. Whyte stated "I'm not afraid of work, my first case was to investigate a homicide and it was successful. Sgt. Whyte stated she found it easy to overcome racial antagonism. She received special training in police work in various seminars and universities. she served as commission to study problems of delinquency. 

Women Police 1950s
Photo by Sun Paper Photographer Albert D. Cochran
Women and the Baltimore Police Department 1953

ARMED LEG 

 

February 26, 1956
Armed leg
With a heft of the hem, policewoman, Ethel T. Divens, a Baltimore police woman draws a revolver from a stocking holster in a demonstration. This is one of several types of holsters that is being tested by the Baltimore Police Department. The city's policewomen have been issued guns for the first time; their work is being extended beyond the juvenile cases they handled in the past. The gun is a special designed .32 caliber revolver nicknamed, "The Cobra". Where to hide it is a subject under study at the department. In detective stories the female officer carries her gun in her handbag. But in real life this has its disadvantages as the handbag can be snatched – and as our women officers are used as decoys for purse snatchers – and it holds so many other things. Shoulder holsters can be hidden under a suit. But what happens on a hot summer day? The stocking holster is easy to get at but it tends to pull down the stockings, and drawing it could draw too much attention; especially if the holstered gam is shapely.

Mullen Named First Woman Police Major

Oct 25, 1978
Lt,. Patricia Mullen, of the city Police Department, was promoted to major making her the highest appointed woman official in the history of the department.

From "Fifteen Years of Progress Donald Pomerleau"
1982

On June 11, 1973, the Civil Service Commission authorized the single classification "Police Officer" to replace the dual designation "Patrolman" and "Police Woman". This reclassification was a continuation of the department's efforts in the area of equal employment opportunity. Female "Police Officers" now had the same prerogatives and responsibilities as their male counterparts. Now only one competitive test for promotions is necessary. Thus, a single career ladder was established for all sworn members.

This is the second part of a series featuring women in nontraditional jobs and who are the first of females in their jobs

In 1970 the Baltimore City Police Department had 53 female officers of which 12 were black. By this year that figure had grown to 163 with 91 being black. Females are not only proving themselves as officers but advancing into unique areas within the department and challenging their male counterparts. Three young ladies, Officer Janice West, Carolyn Hawkins, and Sgt. Linda Flood, all served the requested time in patrol before taking on jobs that earned them second looks, and double takes from the citizens they're out there protecting. Janice West, caught Baltimore's attention last year riding through the streets of Baltimore on a horse, she was the first woman to become a mounted police officer. "I chose mounted because it was something different. - I never been on a horse before. The department was looking for women in that unit so I signed up for it." She recalls having to ride bareback for the first week and falling off, "I kept saying to myself why am I doing this? I should quit…" - "But then I realized what my ambitions were and I told myself to hang in there, the saddle would be better." Janice, a perfect model type, she stands 5' 10" and wears a size 9 dress; having graduated from the police academy in 1977 she was assigned to southwest district. "There were not many women when I started some people thought I couldn't do the job but I knew I could", she said with an air of confidence,  "I had my own way of handling situations, I just talked to people the way I felt they wanted to be talked to." Miss West states, "Most men she meets like the idea of a woman having a different kind of career. They like the idea of a woman not being at home, or in the office." Her duties include issuing tickets and working in crowd control situations. Sometimes she comes down off her horse and works on foot at sporting events at the Stadium. "I really feel good about my job, I feel I've accomplished something. But this is just the first phase of what I really want to accomplishCarolyn Hawkins a 1968 graduate of Carver vocational technical high school, joined the department because "Insider work just wasn't for me" in high school while setting her sights on a dressmaking and design career, she had no idea she would eventually become a police officer. "Sometimes I felt like the men didn't want us there but I never had any problems." After graduation Ms. flood was soon on our way to achieving several firsts in the department assigned to plainclothes division in 1979, she was the first female to work in the stop squad, one of the department's tactical units. -


1st femal observer

Then came the job as an Aerial Observer in the helicopter unit, another first and now, of the 55 black police officers promoted as a result of a suit filed by several black officers, Officer Flood now Sgt Flood was the only black female, to be promoted to the rank of Sgt. Currently the highest ranking female is Major Patricia Mullins and Lieut. Bessie Nourse, a 16 year veteran is the highest ranking black female. Mrs. Violet Hill Whyte who died in July, became the first black policewoman in 1937 and never missed a day on the job for more than the 30 years. 

 
DetJP1 

Police Promote Women to District Commander

Baltimore Sun paper 23 December 1982

Page D4

Police Promote Woman to District Commander

Baltimore city police Commissioner Frank J Battaglia announced several Christmas promotions yesterday, including the appointment of the first woman district commander in departmental history.

Lieut. Bessie R Norris, 49, Dean of students with the department’s education and training division,

The series of promotions was prompted by the upcoming retirement of Col. William L Rawlings chief of criminal investigations division. Col. Rowlands plans to leave the force January 15

Harry C Allender, now a major serving as deputy chief in charge of the central, Southwest and southern districts, was promoted to Col. and will replace Col. Rawlings. The new deputy chief will be Major Calvin Lewis, who is currently commander of the southwestern district.

Major Norris, an 18 year veteran of the force, or replace Major Lewis, in addition to being the first woman district commander, she is also the first black a woman to attain the rank of major.

A native of McBee, South Carolina Major Norris earned her associates degree from the community college of Baltimore 10 years after becoming a police officer. In 1976, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from Coppin state University.

She was promoted to Lieut. in 1978 and served in the criminal investigations and personnel divisions before working of the shift commander at the Northwest district station. She was the first woman to be a shift commander in the districts.

Major Norris has been working in the education and training division since June. She previously worked in the department’s communication division.

In other promotions, Lieut. Joseph T Newman, head of the recently formed and highly publicized narcotics task force, was promoted to Capt. and named head of the bisection in the criminal investigations division.

Capt. Newman, 36, had been a member the force since 1969. He has worked in criminal investigations division since 1971. In 1980 he received a bronze star for his work and narcotics.


Female Detective makes History in Baltimore

BALTIMORE - Anastacia Oluoch is spending her 59th birthday Monday in a Baltimore jail.  And the woman who helped put her there spent the day talking to ABC-2.  Baltimore Detective Julie Pitochelli chased the fugitive around the world and finally brought her back to see justice served, making history with the police department. You don't have to tell Julie Pitochelli it's a man's world.  As one of the 702 women in the 3,300 member Baltimore City Police Department, she already knows.  She explains, "When I first got here I felt like I really had to prove myself." That was 19 years ago.  But Detective Pitochelli's latest move has left no doubt about her abilities.  She brought back the first international extradition suspect in the department's history, something no man on the squad has ever done.  Pitochelli says helping the department hit that milestone isn’t about her gender, "I like people to judge me based on the work that I do, not because I'm a woman or anything else.  I like my work produce to speak for itself." In this case, it did and it wasn't easy.  Pitochelli’s crammed case folder is evidence.  With help from the FBI and Interpol, it took the detective five years to bring Anastacia Oluoch back from Africa. Oluoch fled Baltimore and the U.S. in 2007; accused of beating 90-year-old John Taylor, a patient she was caring for.  It was a brutal attack caught on tape by the victim's daughter, Jaki.  Pitochelli says, "This one was personal.  We don't usually connect with family members as much as I did with Jaki.  Five years working with her day in and day out, I consider her a friend now." It is a friendship forged in mutual motivation:  righting a wrong and serving justice.  Jaki pushed and Julie responded, showing the strength to lead a case from halfway around the world, but never losing the sensitivity it required at home.  She tells ABC-2, “I have a way of making people feel at ease.  They talk to me.  They can tell me things they might not tell other police." Pitochelli helped convince Oluoch's family in Delaware to tell police where Anastacia had gone.  She says she also helped build the case that had a Nairobi court send her back, “They had to believe we had enough evidence against their citizen to bring her back." The dedicated detective had collected more than enough over the years.  Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says, "It's refreshing to see how one case inspired her for the last five years to work so hard to bring this woman back to justice." And when it came down to Oluoch's return, it was Julie who got to escort her into Baltimore Police Headquarters.  It was an emotional conclusion to an investigation half a decade in the making.  Pitochelli says, “It was shocking and relief.  I thought, ‘Oh my God, it's finally over’." But even after Oluoch’s return, there were some tense moments.  Once back on U.S. soil, Pitochelli had concerns the fugitive would be released on bail.  She was eventually held on no bail.  Oluoch will be arraigned October 12 th in Baltimore. 

Read more: Here

 

POLICE GET FIRST

WOMEN SERGEANTS

Quartet Advanced "Under

Terms Of Bill Signed Friday

By Nice  -  May 30, 1937

Mrs. Cronin and Misses Lillie, Lynch and Ryan Promoted Pay To Be $46.50 For the first time in the history of the Baltimore Police Department, women have been advanced to the rank of sergeant. The women, four in number, joined the force during or immediately after the 1st World War, when there was a shortage of men, and functioned for a time as telephone and signal operators. Under terms of a bill signed Friday by Governor Nice, they will hereafter enjoy the rank and the pay, which is $46.50 a week as against their previous $40 of sergeants.

Recipients Listed

The recipients of the promotions, and their present positions, are: Miss Mae E. Little, clerk in the office of the commissioner. Mrs. Bessie K. Cronin, Northern District telephone operator. Miss Clara Lynch, Clerk, Missing Persons Bureau. Miss Margaret Ryan, clerk in police headquarters. Miss Ryan is the senior of the four in point of service. She was appointed to the force on January 9, 1917, serving on the headquarters switchboard until she was advanced to the clerkship. She lives in the 1100 Block Barkley Street.

Appointed Same Day

Miss Little and Mrs. Cronin, who live at 4329 Glenmore Avenue and 2716 Oak Street, respectively, were appointed on the same day. October 2, 1918. Miss Little served first as Central District operator before being transferred to the commissioner’s office. Mrs. Cronin has remained at her original post at the Northern district switchboard. Miss Lynch was appointed on January 10, 1921, originally worked at the Eastern district board, and went from there to headquarters.

 

Before we can fully undrestand Women and the Baltimore Police Department, we should look into the history of Women in Law Enforcement worldwide. Joan Lock wrote a book, published in 1979 the British Policewoman – this is from her research - and from a document that has been copied most likely from files at the Women’s Library marked  "FAWCETT". Suppression of Traffic in Persons Collection,  S14 G’ It lists countries in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australia with dates of the first women police.  The U.S. shows the earliest women appointed to "matrons" with the first woman police officer appointed later in 1910. Germany shows no women matrons but shows they appointed women police from 1903, Met. Women Police Association wasn’t established until the end of 1918.  Finland, Switzerland, Canada and Australia all employed women as police officers before 1918.

 

U.S.A

 

1865 - 6 women matrons appointed in New York City.

1880/86 - Police matrons appointed in 13 cities.

1888 - Massachusetts passed a law directing the appointment of police matrons in all cities of  20,000 inhabitants.

1910 - First policewoman appointed in Los Angeles

1924 - 145 cities employ policewomen, (Owings)

1927 - Above facts quoted (C.T.F.E.331)

1929 - Census of policewomen in U.S.A. gives total of 593} employed by 260 cities and 28 counties* Largest numbers New York 115s Detroit 45* Chicago 30* Washington 23; Los Angeles 22$ St. Louis 18j Cleveland 15. (Report of International Police-women’s Association) Organised as Women Bureaux*
1930 - Crime Prevention Bureau in New York employed 53 women,  (C.T.F.E.509)

1934 - “A movement for the permanent establishment of Women's Bureaux in city police departments and appointment of properly trained and qualified policewomen in all communities” 

 

The first woman who has been made a member of a Police Force, “lives in St Paul, Minn.  Her name is Mrs Edwin T. Root and she was name a full-fledged Officer of the law by the Mayor of St. Paul” ….. From that information I would say St Paul, Minn had the first Woman Officer in the country.

 

In the 1915 BPD Rules and Regs a Police Woman job was described as Rule 20 Page 48-49

 

Matrons of the Police Force (Policewomen)

 

1. Matrons of the Police Force (Policewomen), are conservators of the peace and members of the Force; they are amenable to the rules and regulations of the Department in so far as the rules and regulations respectively apply, subject to such modifications thereof, as may from time to time be defined by the Board of Police Commissioners or the Marshall in special and general orders.

 

2. They will report direct to the Marshal, and will perform such special and general duties and make such reports as may be from time to time directed by the Board of Police Commissioners, or the Marshal.

 

3. Matrons to the Force (Policewomen), shall serve on probation for one year.

 

 Nancylee Kleine formerly Nancylee Wilhelm passed away on December 19th 2012
Photo Courtesy Andy de la Vara
The Female Police Officer to the far left wearing a black dress with white color is "Nancylee Kleine" formerly "Nancylee Wilhelm"


 We are working to build this page to explain the history of Women and the Blatimore Police Department, if you have photos, and info, please help us out by contacting Ken Driscoll Ret. Det. Baltimore Police at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

POLICE INFORMATION

 

Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

 

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NOTICE

 

How to Dispose of Old Police Items

 

If you come into possession of Police items from an Estate or Death of a Police Officer Family Member and do not know how to properly dispose of these items please contact: Retired Detective Ken Driscoll - Please dispose of POLICE Items: Badges, Guns, Uniforms, Documents, PROPERLY so they won’t be used IMPROPERLY.

  

Please contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll if you have any pictures of you or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to Honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department. 

Anyone with information, photographs, memorabilia, or other "Baltimore City Police" items can contact Ret. Det. Kenny Driscoll at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. follow us on Twitter @BaltoPoliceHist or like us on Facebook or mail pics to 8138 Dundalk Ave. Baltimore Md. 21222