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Book Looks at Women Police Officers

They were called sleuths in skirts, guardettes, copettes, and police in petticoats. It would be a long time—well over 150 years—before women in law enforcement were known simply as police officers. Balancing the stories of trailblazers from the past with those of today, Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More (Chicago Review Press) Cheryl Mullenbach profiles 16 women’s stories as civil servants. We talked briefly to her.

womeninblue1) Why did you write this book?

I ran across some articles in an old newspaper about a woman named Isabella Goodwin who was a police detective in New York City in the late 1800s. She had been instrumental in solving an especially baffling case and went on to serve for 30 years. At her retirement she said, “My experiences would fill a book.” I was intrigued. It  got me wondering about other untold stories of women who had served in law enforcement. And I became curious about how things had changed in police work since Isabella’s day.

2) How did you choose the women?

I wanted to highlight the progression of the role of women in law enforcement over the decades, so half of the women are from the past. Also, I thought it important to showcase a variety of careers within law enforcement. And I wanted to include women from a range of ages, backgrounds, and locations. It wasn’t difficult to find individuals who were passionate about their work and who could lend perspective to challenges they faced as women in a male dominated arena.

3) Why should young women consider careers in law enforcement?

The women profiled in Women in Blue come from very diverse educational backgrounds—accounting, psychology, art, and aviation among others. They work in a variety of environments and sometimes followed unusual pathways to their careers. But I saw a common thread in the women who worked in law enforcement in the past and their contemporaries. They believe they are making a difference in the world.