National Police Woman Day is celebrated each year on September 12. The day acknowledges and celebrates the contribution of female police officers who enforce law and order around the country. Today only roughly 10% of the police force in the United States is made up of women. National Police Woman Day hopes to rectify that by encouraging more women to join the service. Campaigns and events are organized to urge more women to take up law enforcement roles. Along with expressing gratitude to these officers, the day also hopes for a future where law enforcement bodies will have stronger female representation.
History of National Police Woman Day
The first policewoman in the United States was most likely Marie Owens. She was hired by the Chicago Police Department in 1891. Although police matrons were not a rare sight in prisons in New York City prior to this, they lacked the authority to arrest as Owens did. Alice Wells was hired by the Los Angeles police department in 1910 and was the first American-born woman police officer in the United States. Unlike Wells, Owens had been born in Canada.
In 1854, the first police matrons were hired by New York City to search and guard female prisoners, but they were civilians with no law enforcement authority. The role became quite popular among women and many started applying for similar positions in various parts of the United States. In 1910, the Los Angeles Police Department appointed the first regularly rated policewomen, Alice Wells. Before her, matrons were seen as masculine and not very bright. Wells was a college graduate, a social worker, and had deliberately sought the position of a police officer. She soon became a pioneer in the national movement to have police departments hire women as officers. However, that did not really happen, and women were hired by quotas. This means they regularly faced discrimination, silent contempt, sexism at the workplace, and other double standards. Several court cases were fought to reach equality of employment in police agencies. Cases such as Shpritzer v. Lang, Wells v. Civil Service Commission, and the Joanne Rossi case in Pennsylvania were the landmark ones. The most far-reaching case was the August 1971 class-action suit brought by Veragene Hardy against the City of Oakland Civil Service Board, which demanded a civil service classification for police officers with the Oakland Police Department that would be open to men and women on an equal basis. Today policewomen are involved in all aspects of police work.
National Police Woman Day timeline
Women enter the criminal justice profession.
Lola Baldwin and Fanny Bixby are sworn in as policewomen.
The second wave of feminism encourages women to diversify their roles.
TLC’s TV series follows female officers in departments around the U.S.
National Police Woman Day FAQs
What day is National Police Woman Day?
National Police Woman’s Day is observed every year on September 12.
Is there a national day for police?
On October 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15th as a day to honor police officers.
When were women allowed to join the police?
In 1972, Congress passed an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This prohibited state and local agencies from job discrimination based on gender. Police departments were required to hire women for jobs on an equal basis with men.
How To Celebrate National Police Woman Day
Thank a policewoman
National Police Woman Day is a day dedicated to honoring women in the police force. Send a message of thanks to a policewoman, or give them a shoutout on social media.
You can also observe the day by raising awareness for the progress that needs to be made for women to have a more equal role in law enforcement.
Learn more about women in law enforcement
Explore the website for the International Association of Women Police. This group works for a stronger role for women in law enforcement. Find out how you can advocate for women’s role in law enforcement.
5 Facts About Police Officers That Will Blow Your Mind
Not a lot of crimes are actually solved
American law enforcement agents only solve around 21% of all reported crimes.
Policemen in the U.K. have a nickname
Police officers in England are sometimes called “Bobbies,” in honor of Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the modern British police force.
1916 was a landmark year
In 1916, Georgia Ann Robinson became the first African-American policewoman.
Japanese police use paintball guns
Japanese police officers carry paintball guns to mark fleeing criminals' vehicles.
Carrying firearms is rare for London police officers
Nearly 90% of London’s police officers don’t carry firearms.
Why We Love National Police Woman Day
Celebrates the progress made by women
For the longest time, women had little to no representation in the police force. National Police Woman Day celebrates the progress that women have made through the years for better representation.
A day to express thanks
Policewomen enforce law and order, and make sure that we feel safe in our communities. National Police Woman Day is the time to acknowledge these contributions and express our gratitude for the same.
Advocates for gender equality
Women make for only 10% of the entire police force in America. National Police Woman Day calls for the introspection of this gender disparity and works towards a more equal future.
National Police Woman Day dates