Chicago researcher IDs nation’s 1st female cop

CHICAGO (AP) — A retired federal agent researching Chicago law enforcement history thinks the country’s first female police officer was employed in the Windy City.

Rick Barrett says he found a reference to Marie Owens as a Chicago officer in the 1890s. The Chicago Tribune says a woman joined the Los Angeles force in 1910, and that Oregon claims it had a female officer in 1908.

Barrett says Owens deserves “some recognition.”

He describes Owens as an Irish Catholic who wasn’t wealthy. She was tall with long, dark hair, grew up in Canada and was in her 20s when she moved with her husband to Chicago, where they had five children. She became a detective sergeant in 1891 and was given the power of arrest.

Chief Chicago History Museum historian Russell Lewis says Barrett’s findings are “great for Chicago.”

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