90 Years of Boston Female Cops–from Flapper Squad to High Ranks


It has been 90 years since Boston's first female police officers joined the force. The Boston Globe says that with Monday's anniversary comes a new recognition of the pioneers — a nurse, an ex-D.C. cop, two stenographers, and two housewives — who together broke the gender barrier in 1921. ‘They’re remarkable, and they were alone,” said Sgt. Det. Kim Gaddy, who along with Margaret Sullivan, police archivist, scoured libraries in an effort to learn more bout the first six.

Mayor Thomas Menino plans on designating space at City Hall to exhibit some of the photos and articles Sullivan and Gaddy unearthed. The police department remains a male-dominated bastion–women are 13 percent of the city's 2,074 sworn officers — the research shows the strides they have made from second-class citizens in the department to full-fledged members who can carry guns and rise as high as police commissioner. In 1921, the original officers, dubbed the “flapper squad'' in the press, were hired to watch out for young women in the city, who authorities feared were falling prey to “mashers,'' skirt-chasers who lurked in movie theaters, parks, and beaches. Their supervisors wanted them to track down runaway children and keep young women from drinking with sailors and haunting nightclubs.

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