The Sexual Politics of Law Enforcement and the LAPD
Publication: Jan 98
Publication: Jan 98
6 x 9
4 tables, 8 figs.
How women expanded policework and unwittingly created the conditions for more aggressive policingRead an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).
Many of us take the presence of policewomen on patrol and in investigative roles for granted. Realistic dramas and comedies in the movies and on television show women officers performing the same duties as men on the force. This visibility tells us nothing about the hostility and controversy that have beset police women since they were first hired by police departments in the 1910's. Author Janis Appier traces the origins of women in police work, explaining how pioneer policewomen's struggles to gain secure footholds in big city police departments ironically helped to make modern policework one of the most male dominated occupations in the United States.
With a new vision of non-coercive police work and crime prevention, progressive reformers exerted political and social pressure to create positions for female officers dedicated to guiding and protecting juveniles and women. Women reformers pointed to changing sexual mores among working-class female youth to emphasize the need for a new approach to policing.
The policewomen who undertook the work of counseling sexually active teenage girls and their families saw themselves as helping young people achieve moral equilibrium during a period in which standards of conduct were in flux. In the Los Angeles Police Department, the first to hire women, this social work was primarily the responsibility of the City Mother's Bureau; in other major cities, policewomen's roles were similarly constructed as maternalistic. Scrutinizing case records, public statements, and departmental policies governing policewomen, Appier shows how female officers handled the complex gender politics of their work with the public and within their departments.
Appier reveals that many of these pioneering policewomen succeeded in expanding the scope of policework and carving out a rewarding professional niche, despite continued attempts to oust them or limit their sphere of action. But this advancement was short-lived; within a generation a masculinized model of crime fighting took hold, and policewomen's authority eroded.
Table of Contents
Introduction: "A Man's Job": Gender and Police Work
Part I: Gender, the Police, and Criminal Justice Reform
1. "All over the Country There Is a Spirit of Cleaning Up": The Female Reform Tradition and the Origins of the Movement for Women Police
2. Preventive Justice: The Campaign for Women Police
Part II: Women Police in Los Angeles
3. "Just Mothers to Everybody": The City Mother's Bureau of Los Angeles, 1914-1929
4. Double Lives: Police Women of the LAPD Juvenile Bureau
5. From City Mother to "Sgt. Tits": The Death of the Crime Prevention Model
Epilogue: Out for Justice: The Legacy of the Crime Control Model
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Critical Perspectives on the Past edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig
Critical Perspectives on the Past, edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig, is concerned with the traditional and nontraditional ways in which historical ideas are formed. In its attentiveness to issues of race, class, and gender and to the role of human agency in shaping events, the series is as critical of traditional historical method as content. Emphasizing that history is itself an interpretation of material events, the series demonstrates that the historian's choices of subject, narrative technique, and documentation are politically as well as intellectually constructed.