FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Compression Tactical Bra - Cheata Tactical
Patented technology is designed to provide the stability of 2-3 sports bras,...

Top News

LAPD Honors Pioneering Female Officer Alice Stebbins Wells

September 14, 2010  | 

The LAPD's newest female officer (center) is flanked by Asst. Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur (left) and a retired officer wearing the original uniform of Alice Stebbins Wells, who became an LAPD officer in 1910. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Historical Society.

On the centennial of her hiring as one of the nation's first working policewomen, Alice Stebbins Wells received a tribute from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Wells was one of the first female officers in the country with arrest powers when she joined the department on Sept. 12, 1910. On Monday, the LAPD paid tribute to Wells during the 17th Annual Jack Webb Awards Night that is co-hosted with the Los Angeles Police Historical Society. 

"A lot of them were being brought in to deal with women and children to handle the problems that women were raising in the community and to try to keep them on the straight and narrow," Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur tells POLICE Magazine. "Many of them had to design their role in policing."

Wells' grandson made an appearance at the luncheon, along with 14 active and retired LAPD policewomen, who wore the uniforms female officers wore between 1910 and the present.

Prior to Wells entering the force, in 1909, she had petitioned Mayor George Alexander and the City Council to establish a Los Angeles policewoman. On the first day of her appointment, Wells was issued a telephone call box key, a book of rules, a first-aid book, and a policeman's badge.

"When Alice came on she had full police powers but not a gun," MacArthur said. "Talk about blazing a trail, but not being given the tools. Nor did she have partners. She was out there on her own blazing through uncharted territory."

Wells was eventually issued Policewoman's Badge Number One. Her first duties included the "suppression of unwholesome billboard displays, searches for missing persons, and the maintenance of a general information bureau for women seeking advice on matters within the scope of police departments," according to the LAPD website.

While Wells paved the way for more female officers in the LAPD, there were other barriers. In the 1950s, the City Council intervened, appointing several female officers as sergeants.

Today, females make up 19 percent of the department.

Recruiting female officers can be a challenge for the deparment, according to MacArthur, due to the physical aspects of police work. Yet, the department has hosted several recruiting events for women that have been well attended. Female officers explain their work to dispell the mystique of the job.

Wells' start with the department was well chronicled in the local newspapers at the time, the Los Angeles Times reports.


PHOTO GALLERY: "Pioneering Women of the LAPD"

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent News

Jury Hears Testimony from Officers Who Survived Shooting that Killed Rookie Officer
Officer Jesse Hempen—who suffered a gunshot wound to his upper leg—and Officer David...
Chicago Officer Dies by Suicide Inside Her Personally Owned Vehicle
A police officer with the Chicago Police Department died by suicide in her personally...
New Jersey Officer Injured When DUI Driver Crashes Into Her Squad Car
An officer with the Brick Township (NJ) Police Department was assisting with an...
Dallas Officer Who Fatally Shot Man in Wrong Apartment to Be Charged
A Dallas police officer who fatally shot a man when she entered the wrong apartment will...
Ohio SRO Placed on Leave for 'Arcing' TASER to Wake Sleeping Student
An officer with the Smithville (OH) Police Department has been placed on unpaid leave...

Police Magazine