Ribbon/ Button from an Annual Police Matron Association Meeting, 1904

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Women in Law Enforcement Timeline

Ribbon/ Button from an Annual Police Matron Association Meeting, 1904


Ribbon/Button: Third Annual meeting of the Western Police Matron Association in St. Louis, 1904. 2010.29.11. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

The button depicts the St. Louis Fair and the ribbon is attached to the bottom of the button. This ribbon represents one example of an early Police Matron Association meeting; before long, policewomen associations were also formed.

The International Association of Policewomen (IAP) was founded in 1915 by Alice Wells and others and was disbanded during the Depression in 1932.

Five years earlier, in 1910, Alice Stebbins Wells became policewoman with the Los Angeles (CA) Police Department.

Wells, a college-educated woman with a career in social work, was appointed a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) policewoman in 1910 after she lobbied for a city ordinance that created her unique position on the force and presented a petition containing the signatures of influential citizens to the mayor of Los Angeles.

Wells soon became a pioneer in the national movement to have police departments hire women as officers. She is widely recognized as the first known woman to be given both the title of policewoman and arrest powers. Her primary duties were the supervision and enforcement of laws applicable to juveniles and women at public recreation areas.