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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

VINTAGE LAPD: THE FIRST LATINA POLICEWOMAN

Josephine Serrano was the first Latina appointed as a policewoman in the Los Angeles Police Department. The fee she paid for the application was just one dollar, but it cost her far more. Not only was her family against her joining the LAPD, but her fiancé broke off their engagement because of it. She was also bucking a feeling of mistrust in the Latino community toward the police.
 
However, Collier, who had lost her Rosie-the-Riveter job at Lockheed at the end of World War II, needed work and felt she could be a liaison between the community and the LAPD. Of the two hundred women who tested to join the force, twenty-one were accepted and only nine – including Collier – made it through training to become full-fledged officers. "The women had no graduation ceremony, received no diploma, nor were they given a gun," wrote Gail Ryan, historian for the Women Police Officers Assn. of California. 
 
After graduating from the police academy, Collier was assigned to a jail in Lincoln Heights where she and other policewomen wore nurses' uniforms. Two years later, they went through additional training and were issued guns.
 
Collier was eventually given a beat to walk in the Pershing Square area downtown, which she and other policewomen did undercover. Wearing a skirt and a hat and gloves, they walked the beat in high heels.
 
In 1948, she married a fellow officer, Jack Collier, and she stayed with the force until 1960 when she retired because of a back problem. She later worked as a counselor with the Job Corps.
 
During her career, Collier smashed the lines dividing women from many assignments in the early history of the LAPD. Those sacrifices and her commitment opened the door for many women and Latinas in the department, setting the stage for future generations.

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