First Uniforms for Cleveland Policewomen, 1957

Women have a long and honorable history of service in the Cleveland Police Department.  That service began in 1893, with the creation of the Police Matron’s Service.  Matrons worked in the women’s jails.  Cleveland first female police officer Rose Constant, appointed in 1911, did not carry a fire arm and had limited arrest powers. 

In 1924, the Cleveland Police Department created the Women’s Bureau.  Over the next fifty years, officers in the Women’s Bureau worked with families, women and children involved in criminal activity or needing assistance.  Members of the Women’s Bureau wore civilian clothing, could not drive zone cars and were not issued weapons. Policewomen’s badges and wreaths were smaller than the men’s and their badge numbers were in the 3000s.

Plain Dealer, Sept 23, 1911

In the 1950s, Cleveland’s policewomen advocated for uniforms like those worn by policewomen in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.  In the fall of 1956, the department tested possible choices. Chief Frank Story stated that the uniforms would include “a cap, a badge and probably a shoulder bag” and that the uniforms would be worn mostly for ceremonial occasions.

New Cleveland Policewomen, 1950
Violet Novak #3019, far left; Mary Cleary #3029, back row, dark top
Plain Dealer, September 6, 1956

After some debate, policewomen received uniforms for the first time in 1957, which were a navy serge jacket and skirt, white blouse, white gloves, black string tie, girdle, pantyhose and hat.  Policewomen Katherine Sutkow #3011 (#279) and Irene Neal #3028 (#200) debuted the uniforms at a reception for Ohio Governor William O’Neill.  Policewomen’s badges and wreaths were smaller than the mens and their badge numbers were in the 3000s.

FOP newsletter, April 1957
Katherine Sutkow, #3011

The Women’s Bureau was abolished in 1976 and women were fully incorporated into the police force. On March 17, 1978, the department stopped using the 3000 badge numbers and reassigned each female officer with a new badge, including those of Katherine Sutkow, Carol Guido and Esterlene Powers.

Artifacts, uniforms and equipment used by Katherine Sutkow, Carol Guido and Esterlene Powers are now on display at the Cleveland Police Museum. The museum is located in the Justice Center (1300 Ontario) and open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am – 2pm.

Policewomen Appointed 12 16 1965, wearing uniforms very similar to those first issued in 1957
Williams, Adrienne M. # 3037
Colarick, Michele F. # 3023
Malloy, Eileen # 3030
Weaver, Jan Marie # 3034
Simmons, Sandra A # 3033
Ray, Margaret # 3032
Norman, Claudia # 3031
Kidd, Ruth M. # 3029
Bryant, Elsie # 3019
Demczyk, Rita J. # 3025
Barrett, Eileen A. # 3010
Baker, Carol J. # 3007
Guido, Carol A. # 3028
Esterline Powers, #349
Cleveland Police Museum
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