The story of Sgt. Marie Owens has come to light after the extensive research of a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, who spent three years researching her story, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Rick Barrett, the former DEA agent, says he research shows Owens started with the Chicago Police Department in 1891. The first female officer in the nation was thought to be Lola Baldwin — hired by the Portland Police Bureau in 1908 to head up the new Woman's Protective Division. Baldwin took on a supervisory role. Two years later, the LAPD hired Alice Stebbins Wells, giving her arrest powers.
Owens moved from Canada to Chicago, where her husband died of typhoid fever, leaving her to raise five children.
Owens, who worked 32 years with the department, told the Tribune in 1906 she liked police work because it allowed her to "help women and children who need help." Much of her work involved enforcing child labor laws by inspecting factories where she witnesses children as young as 7 working.