HISTORY OF OUR POLICEWOMAN


By DETECTIVE SGT. RUTH O'NEIL

 

As the population of our city expanded, so did the need for women in police work. 

 

Prior to World War I, when the first policewoman was appointed to the
Buffalo Police Department, their number has grown to the proportions of 15 members, supervised by this writer. 

 

Nine of these woman are assigned to the Crime Prevention Bureau, commanded by Lt. Kevin C. Harmon. 

 

The six others are detailed to various units within the department; i.e., the Sex Unit, City Court, Detective Division, ect. 

 

Each woman is given the same basic training and specialized instruction as her male counterpart.


She is subject to the same rules and regulations of the department, and is required to equip herself with a .38 caliber revolver, handcuffs and uniform. Her innate sensibility in coping with the myriad problems of adolescence is probably a policewoman's most valuable asset.

 

Relative to the functions performed by these woman, it is safe to say that about 40% of their work load involves the service of warrants on female offenders, both juvenile and adult. 

 

During the year 1966 this figure amounted to 662. An equal portion of time is allocated to taking of statements and subsequent investigations concerning morals offenses. 

 

In addition to rendering assistance to any of the squads within the department, our policewoman's services are often utilized by the District Attorney's office, the State Police and federal agencies. Last year a total of 362 cases of female juvenile offenders were processed by this unit.

 

Among other duties performed by our group are: preparation of court cases, referrals to social service agencies, guarding female prisoners charged with felonies who are confined to hospitals, maintain order at sporting events and other convocations, participating in narcotics and gambling raids, keeping under surveillance public establishments which tend to foster delinquency among youngsters, rendition of female offenders from other jurisdictions who are wanted by this department for crimes committed here, conducting tours through police headquarters, duty in the women's cell block when no matron is available, and fulfilling speaking engagements before civic groups.

 

Most of our investigations reveal heartaches and tragedy for those involved. The role of the policewoman as depicted on the television screen and in books - all glamour and intrigue - is pure fantasy. Ask any policewoman.

 

To sum it up, our "gals in blue" are second to none and certainly a credit to the Buffalo Police department.

 

Note

 

The above article was published in the1967 Buffalo Police Mutual Aid and Benefit Association 76 th Annual Ball and Exhibition Drill program.

 

In 1978 the position of Policewoman and Patrolman were abolished and the title of Police Officer was adopted. Men and woman are regarded as equals. 

 

Advancement in rank and duty assignments are filled in a prescribed procedure for all members of the department.

 





Detective Paul Barba's Proud Buffalo Police Department Family History


 


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