The Tucson Police Department hired its first female police officer in 1929. Nora Nugent's primary job was to handle juveniles and females. Only four years later, her position was eliminated by Tucson City Council and it would be over 20 years until the Department re-visited hiring female police officers.
In 1952 the Department began seeking "ladies" to hire for police officer. The requirements included a minimum height and weight standard of proper proportion, age restriction, and minimum education to include college. They also were required to have a minimum of 2 years of paid employment in the area of probation, education, nursing, investigation, law enforcement, or similar work. Men were not required to meet these same standards.
On February 29, 1952, Alice Birdman, 28, became the first policewoman since Nora Nugent. Upon her selection, two male officers resigned from the Department and went to work for another agency. Alice was one of seven applicants and her duties were described as "non-patrol" and "non-uniformed." She and her partner, Joan Reinke patrolled the streets of Tucson in an unmarked patrol car with their .38's tucked in their pocket books wearing skirts and high heels. Again, their main duties were to handle cases involving females and juveniles. Often times they were required to be accompanied by a male officer while on duty. Women would not be permitted to work uniformed patrol in a solo capacity until over 20 years later.
In 1973 the Department allowed two women to work uniformed patrol for the first time. Officer Martha Natta (now Bureau Chief Martha Cramer for the Pima County Sheriff's Department) and Officer Janet Wilson (now Kishman) were assigned to patrol immediately out of the academy as part of an "experimental" program. The pilot program only lasted 60 days before both women were re-assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit as Detectives, but their participation paved the way for women to work in a patrol capacity.
The Department has continued to grow and advance over the years and we now have approximately 142 commissioned and 222 non-sworn females proudly serving the citizens of Tucson. There are women in every rank on the Tucson Police Department including a female Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief. Recently, the Department was honored to welcome two of our first female officers back to the main police station for a surprise visit. Alice Birdman and Joan Reinke were greeted by several current female Department members of every rank who expressed their sincere gratitude for paving the way for female law enforcement officers on the Department.
The Tucson Police Department is also proud to be hosting the 2014 conference for the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives. Pictured below are several female law enforcement officers from various agencies in and around Tucson who are assisting with the planning of the conference.
To read more about some of the current female law enforcement officers, click on the links below.
Women of the
Tucson Police Department