Women’s History Month: Kate Warne, America’s first female detective

 

IFPO Director and retired York College of Pennsylvania professor Chris Hertig recently penned this op-ed for The York Dispatch, where he sits on the editorial advisory board. The op-ed marries Chris' passions for investigative history and the security industry, along with the timeliness of March being Women's History Month. Chris is also a contributor to Women in the Security Profession: A Practical Guide for Career Development, edited by IFPO Executive Director Sandi J. Davies. Bravo to Chris for a great op-ed and for keeping the IFPO in the news as well. -- IFPO

In 1856 a young widow named Kate Warne came to see about getting a job as an operative with the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. When she approached Agency founder Allen Pinkerton, he at first thought she was applying for a clerical position. There had never been a female detective. The New York Police Department had their first female investigator in 1903. Other police agencies began to hire women around this time, but generally in very limited roles.

Some intriguing light is shed on the early policewoman by Georg Sheets in The Setting Of The Sun: The Story of York. He discusses Mabel Rozelle, York’s first policewoman. On Saturday night, April 1, 1922, Officer Rozelle raided a dance hall, pulled couples apart and notified the patrons that certain dances would not be tolerated by the York police department. She also organized classes for men, warning them of flappers who tried to pick up men in dance halls and give them venereal disease.

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Officer Mabel Rozelle was one example of the different duties early policewomen had. They were not regular police officers. And they arrived on the scene decades after Kate Warne, attesting to the revolutionary decision which Allen Pinkerton faced.

Mrs. Warne told Pinkerton:

“A female detective may go and worm out secrets in ways that are impossible for male detectives … A criminal may hide all traces of his guilt from his fellow men, but he will not hide it from his wife or mistress. The testimony of these women, then, becomes the sole means of resolving the crimes, and this testimony can be obtained in only one way — a female detective makes her acquaintance, wins her confidence, and draws out the story of the wrongdoing.”

Read the rest of the op-ed here.

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By |2020-03-09T06:12:49-04:00March 9th, 2020|About IFPO, News|Comments Off on Women’s History Month: Kate Warne, America’s first female detective

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