In 1913 , Mrs. C.A. Hooper, Mrs. L.P. Jones, and Juliet Barlow were the earliest women to serve as city police officers in El Paso. Jones was superintendent of the local charity association, Barlow was a nurse for El Paso Baby District, and Jones was a visiting nurse with the local tubercular association. Their primary duties were to enforce sanitation laws in Chilhuaita and make arrests in abuses cases.
The charity association worked to establish a detention home for delinquent women. There was a movement by women’s groups to have a women matron installed at the city jail and in July of 1917, Kate Marek was appointed matron, she also headed the rescue home for the Salvation Army. She was succeeded by Ida Newton. Newton was later transferred to clerk for the El Paso Detective Department and assisted them with vice raids. Newton retired in 1946.
The position of policewoman might not have been a permanent position, it was abolished, but then was brought back multiple times. On Aug 22, 1917, Capt Lola Eighmey was confirmed as a policewoman, after being recommended by the City Civil Service Commission. Eighmey worked as a traveler’s aid for the YWCA at the union depot.
The position of policewoman was abolished on May 14, 1918 and brought back In March of 1919 when Kate Farnham was appointed policewoman. Farnham was joined by Virginia Méndez, who was called the first “gun totting, badge wearing policewoman.” Mendez was said to be tough and as strong as any policeman. Both women lost their jobs because of political alignment and the position was again abolished in 1923.Mendez went on to serve as deputy county probation officer for many years. Farnham was moved to the position as matron at Washington Park, but the position was abolished and she ran the Upson Hotel, a boarding house on Upson Street.
Another early women police officer was Callie Fairley, the first woman detective. Fairley enjoyed a long career retiring in 1952.
Other women policewomen and matrons included; Maud Selleck. Edna Brown, Annie Jo Scott, Alice Woglesale and Ann Shea. Dorothy Lowe a veteran detective in 1966, was promoted to the Missing Persons Juvenile Department. In 1977, women were allowed to join the patrol. Six women, Yolanda Garcia, Tommy Wright, Susan Thompson, Andra Escobar, and Ann Shea graduated from the eight-week course at the El Paso Police Academy. Sylvia DeAngelis was the first El Paso woman police sergeant in 1987. Later Diana Kirk became the first women police chief of staff.
photo credit: El Paso Main Libary ,Border Heritage Center