SDPD's first female was Police Matron Rose Longacre. Matron Ida Griffin soon followed. In September of 1913, SDPD hired its first female Detective, E. Belle Robinson. In 1917 SDPD hired its first Policewoman, Lucile Jeardeau (right). Her duties were to patrol the streets of La Jolla in a uniform consisting of a long skirt and white top. Her badge, as seen below, was clipped to her oversized belt.
The Eagletop Policewoman badge was used from 1930-1974. SDPD's last sworn member to have worn it was Barbara Harrison who
retired in 2003 as
Executive Assistant Chief of Police.
Officer Connie Borchers Van Putten had been a member of the SDPD since 1966 when, in 1974, she was sent to the field for "training." As depicted on the right, her uniform was different but her duties were the same as her male counterparts. The last barrier to gender inequality would soon fall and women cops would soon have badges that read "Police Officer" and they would be attired the same as their male counterparts.
By the late 1970s the uniform of female police officers mirrored their male counterparts. Equal pay for equal work was, at that time, a relatively unhead of concept in the American labor force.
02/18/1972. 22 year old Helga Johnson was hired as SDPD's first black Policewoman. In 1974 she became the first black woman
to be classfied in the gender
nuetral rank of police officer.
Barbara Harrison joined Chief David Bejarano at
Old City Hall at 4th and G Street to replicate the
above photo exactly 100 years later.
Officer Ethel Gilmore wore a Policewoman's badge and uniform in 1953 however her duties were more that of a Matron.
Despite women having served the SDPD since 1909, by 2004, women accounted for only 12.7 percent of all sworn law enforcement positions in large agencies. In San Diego approximately 16% of the sworn officers are women. According to "Police One", the percentage of female officers in smaller agencies is even lower in spite of women comprising 46.5 percent of the entire labor force.
When Shelley Zimmerman was sworn in as SDPD Chief in 2014, she became the only female major city police chief in the United States. Rulette Armstead became SDPD's highest ranking black female when she was promoted to
Assistant Chief of Police in 1992.
Barbara Harrison became SDPD's highest ranking female when she was promoted to Assistant Chief of Police in 1998 and Executive Assistant
Chief of Police.
1912: Two years after SDPD's first Matron, Rose Longacre, was hired the rank was split between "Inside and Outside Matrons." Inside Matrons did police work commonly associated with the title. Outside Matrons had duties more commonly associated with a Detective. Recognizing the value Ms. Longacre brought to the department, in March she was voted a 50% pay raise. 1914: Scandle erupted after an Outside Matron entered a bar and made an arrest. At the time it was illegal for a woman to be in a bar. The ensuing outrage almost cost Chief Keno Wilson his job.
1919: With a new Chief at the helm, the handful of SDPD's Policewomen and Outside Matrons were summarily fired.
1926: With low pay dimishing staffing amongst the Patrolmen, women were brought back into the ranks. Because of the different Civil Service classification the women were paid less despite hiring standards set higher than their male counterparts.
1932: WIth the Great Depression
biting city coffers, SDPD officially eliminated the rank of Policewomen.
The rank would reappear toward the end
of the decade.
1943: The San Diego Union profiled the important work of Policewoman Hazel Hunting in the SDPD Missing Persons Unit. While the article incorrectly listed her as SDPD's first Policewoman, it correctly depicted her as the head of the Missing Persons Unit.
1960: The San Diego Union profiled
1976: With a new Chief came new ideas. Officer Connie Van Putten was promoted to Sergeant. 1984: The downside of full gender equality was graphically illustrated by the September 14th on duty murder of Officer Kimberly S. Tonahill.
1999: Barbara Harrison was promoted to Executive Assistant Chief of Police. Her appointment to the number two position made her the highest ranking female in the history of the SDPD (at the time).
2014: On March 4th, Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman was appointed Chief of Police. A 32 year veteran at the time of her appointment, she'd held almost every rank within the department - something unimaginable just a decade before her 1982 hiring.
2018: Lieutenant's Andra Brown and Misty Cedrun, begin a quarterly Women in Leadership Conference to groom SDPD's next generation of future leaders.
Chief Edward "Ned" Bushyhead and most of the
all male police force of 1900.
On March 4, 2014, Shelley J. Zimmerman became SDPD's highest ranking officer when she was sworn in as Chief of Police. At the time of her swearing in, the 32 year veteran SDPD officer was the only female police chief in the top 10 cities in America.
Policewomen Doris DeVowe and Barbara Montgomery served the School Safety Patrol in 1972-73.