9. There Has Never Been a Woman in Charge of the NYPD
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner William Bratton and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson attend an NYPD Police Academy Graduation at MSG on Tuesday, December 29, 2015. The graduation and swearing in ceremony included 1,126 NYPD graduates and 10 non-NYPD graduates. Photo: Michael Appleton/NYC Mayoral Photography Office
The structure of leadership has changed throughout the history of the NYPD. In the early years of the police department, the Superintendent was in charge of a group of four to six Commissioners who ran the department as a single unit. The first NYPD Superintendent was George Washington Matsell, who held the post from 1845 to 1857. Former President Theodore Roosevelt also served as President of the NYPD Board of Commissioners from 1895 to 1897, and replaced the group of Police Commissioners with a single Police Commissioner when he was the Governor of New York in 1901.
Since its inception, there have been no female Police Commissioners in the NYPD. However, the NYPD has employed women since it was formed in 1845. They worked as jail matrons, Secretaries to the Police Board and policewomen (starting in 1918.) Today, women comprise 18% of NYPD forces. The Policewomen’s Endowment Association was formed in 1921, and it fought for women’s equality in the police department until the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association allowed women to join in the 1960s.