In Her Own Words: A History of Policewomen given in 1952, Part 2

Over her forty years with the Cleveland Police, Wilma Neubecker #3002 saw just about everything.  As part of the Women’s Bureau, she worked cases involving juveniles and women that ranged from vagrancy to neglect and abuse. Neubecker rose through the ranks of the Women’s Bureau (which was separate from the rest of the department), becoming the Bureau’s Captain in 1965, a position she held until her retirement in 1971.

In the 1952, then Lieutenant Neubecker gave a speech outlining of the history of the Women’s Bureau up to that point. Her speech offers a glimpse into the early years of women in the Cleveland Police. Below are excerpts from that history, explaining the Women’s Bureau’s work in 1952.

Captain Wilma Neubecker

“Let me tell you how the Bureau operates at present. We have four superior officers working in the Bureau, a Captain, a Lieut. and 2 Sergeants. The captain supervises the function of the entire Women’s Bureau, attends meetings, gives talks and makes arrangements whenever policewomen are required on special assignments. She is assisted in these duties by the Lieut. The two Srgts. are in charge of the main desk, and work on alternate shifts. A Srgt. takes complaints, interviews people, assigns cases, checks the records and keeps an accounting of the statistics necessary for the annual report.”

December 24, 1952 Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Two of our policewomen have been trained in lie detector work, and they alternate working at the Scientific Identification Bureau under which the lie detector unit operates. One policewomen, as mentioned earlier, is assigned to the jail and interviews all women prisoners as well as keeps records on all cases of intoxicated women. One policewoman has charge of keeping a running list of all the missing people in the city.”

“At the present time we have 17 policewomen who work out, making investigations of complaints, doing patrol work and handling any special assignments. As only two policewomen can go on furlough or vacation at one time, our schedule of vacations runs from very early spring until late fall. This means that most of the year two policewomen are gone on furlough, so that leaves us with 15 policewomen to be divided into three shifts.”

The policewomen appointed on October 5, 1950:
Violet Novak Hartwig #3019, far left, back row; Colleen M. Bunaisky #3023; Jacquelyn Eagens Hanninen #3022; Margaret Gerity MacLaughlin #3034; Jean McManamon Winter #3033; Mary Lou Nishanian Cleary #3029, third from left in back row;

“Cleveland has made good use of its policewomen.”

“The Women’s Bureau day starts with morning shift, beginning at 8:30 AM. Shortly after the women have reported in, Roll call is held. In Roll Call, the members on duty are brought together and the officer in charge of the shift reads any orders issued by the Chief of Police and suggestions set forth by the Captain of the Bureau. The name, address and full description of every missing woman, juvenile or boy is read. The members are required to make note of these and keep the notes with them on their tour of duty. 

August 19, 1952 Cleveland Plain Dealer
September 2, 1952 Cleveland Plain Dealer

When roll call is over, work for the day is assigned. The policewomen may receive new complaints to investigate, or they may be assigned to do patrol duty. When special details and assignments are requests by other divisions of the Police Department, policewomen who are to work on them are given their orders.”

“Sometimes policewomen work in pairs, more often they work alone. When a policewoman is out working, she must call in to the Women’s Bureau at least once every hour so that if her services are needed on other assignments, she is available.”

March 21, 1951 Cleveland Plain Dealer

“During the year of 1952, the Policewomen’s Bureau took care of nine thousand, eight hundred and seventy-five (9,875) cases, an increase of six thousand, seven hundred and twelve (6,712) over the year of 1925. Although during most of the year we had only a few more policewomen working then in 1925, the work of the Bureau had increased more than 200 percent.”

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