Women's History Monthby
Police, 2020Share on social
In honor of women throughout our state and around the country, the San Bernardino Community College District Police Department (SBCCD PD) is highlighting the history of women in law enforcement. The State of California has always been a leader when it comes to women in law enforcement appointing the first sworn policewoman, Alice Stebbins Wells, with powers to arrest.
A graduate theology student and seasoned social worker, Wells saw the need for women in “modern” police work and worked to secure the signatures of many prominent citizens on a petition, which was submitted to the Los Angeles City Council, to adopt an ordinance providing for a Los Angeles Policewoman. On September 12, 1910, Wells was officially appointed to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officer Wells was issued a Policeman’s badge, a book of rules, a telephone call box key, a first aid book, and was assigned to work in Juvenile Probation. She was later issued Policewoman Badge #1! Wells went on to accomplish great milestones for women police officers.
Wells founded the International Association of Women Police in 1915, which continues to provide a forum for exchanging ideas and encouraging the use of women in important law enforcement roles. Instrumental in creating the UCLA Criminology Department’s first class specifically dealing with the work of women officers in 1918, Wells co-founded the Women Peace Officers Association of California in 1928 and served as its first president. In 1934, she was appointed the Los Angeles Police Department historian, a position she held until her retirement on November 1, 1940, after 30 years of service. This pioneering policewoman died on August 17, 1957, at the age of 84.