NELLIE | The first female member of the LAPD

Feb 28, 2017 | by Kathy Lovin

On March 4, 1903 the Los Angeles Herald newspaper reported that Salvation Army Captain Nellie Truelove would be the first woman “to be given a right to wear the nickel star and swing the black club of police authority.”

Born in London in 1863, the aptly-named Capt. Truelove ran a home for “fallen” women at the turn of the 20th century in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The word “fallen” in those days referred to women who worked as prostitutes or were pregnant and unmarried.

Capt. Truelove’s rescue work involved spending days and nights in bars and brothels trying to ease the burden of women in trouble. She believed that no matter how dire the circumstance, there was hope for every woman she met.

Often, she would be called on to referee disputes between the ladies in her care — or their clients — so the Los Angeles Police Department trusted her with the authority to keep the peace as an official member of the force.

Just one year after she received her star and billy club she died. Reportedly, among her last words were, “take care of my girls” and “it was worth it all.”

On the day of her funeral, the streets were lined with thousands of people as eight policemen led a white hearse drawn by four white horses. As her cortege passed the red light district, the bar owners and bartenders who knew her well stood outside with doors closed and hats off, out of respect.

 

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