Just like in the general workforce, the involvement of women in law enforcement is an evolving aspect. However, in law enforcement, women’s services are as old as enforcement agencies, although they have been allocated the lesser complicated tasks. For instance, the first police department to be established in the United States of America was set up in the 1800s, and by 1845, women had begun serving as matrons in the New York City cells. Women’s involvement intensified in the late 19th century as the states initiated a program of hiring widows of police officers as a death benefit for the services their husbands offered.
As the new millennium of the 20th century started, it ushered in a new error in the role of women in law enforcement. Women were upgraded from social work to actual policing fieldwork. Lola Baldwin, for example, was the first police officer woman to be sworn in Portland. She was tasked with protecting women working at the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. In 1908, due to her exemplary work, she was empowered to arrest people. In 1910, the Los Angeles Police department sworn in Alice Well as the first policewoman bearing badge number one. Later on, she founded the International Association of Policewomen, which promoted the role of women in law enforcement.
After World War II, the demand for law enforcement officers increased, providing more chances for women to be incorporated into the system. In the 1950s, women rose in ranks, occupied male-dominated ranks, and began competing for opportunities and promotions. More women were hired into the agencies to act as undercover squads to combat prostitution and drug trafficking. In 1968, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department allocated car 47 to Elizabeth and Betty as the first patrol officers. The role of women was highly accepted, and in 1995, the International Association of Chiefs of police surveyed to eliminate barriers limiting women’s practice. More women’s associations were formed, including the Women in Federal Law Enforcement in 1999. In the current 21st century, women’s practice is improving, and their role is appreciated.