The women who served in the Detroit Police Department in the early 20th century had to have more education then their male counterparts and they served in a separate unit.

Today, Detroit City Council honored some of the first women to join the city’s police force.

WWJ’s Florence Walton spoke with Arta Barron-Hopes, who joined the women’s division in 1952. “We went out patrolling, looking for young girls, kids on the street, curfew violations, checking bars for minors, and in-between we did our regular work which was looking for missing girls and answering neglect complaints.”

Women were only allowed to serve in precincts with the general police population following legal challenges in the 1970’s.

When Patricia Erwin Natlin joined the DPD in 1969, she had to work in a separate unit called the ‘women’s division’. “We handled sex crimes and child abuse cases, so we were in a unique unit, we had a diverse group of people with degrees, we had teachers, social workers to even nuns who had become police-women. And there were a limited number of police-women in the department.” Natlin said.

Natlin and other female officers became a part of the general police force as the result of legal action in the mid-1970’s. 

Natlin retired at the rank of inspector.

(Copyright, 2010. WWJ Newsradio 950, All Rights Reserved.)


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