A Brief Story

Barbara Hopkins

Barbara Hopkins
Captain, Annapolis (MD) Police Department


On March 9, 1973, I was sworn in as the first, and at the time, only, female police officer with the Annapolis (MD) Police Department. There were approximately 70 male police officers. I received my entry level training at the Baltimore Police Academy, where I was the only female recruit among 80 recruits at various stages of training.

Three years earlier, on May 4,1970, I was a 20-year-old junior at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Four of my fellow students were killed by the Guardsmen that day. I had always been taught to respect authority. I was in shock after the shooting. Something inside me said this wasn’t right and I must do what I could to prevent such incidents in the future.

In 1973 I was back in Annapolis, Maryland, my hometown. I needed a job and the opportunity to become a police officer presented itself. I had never thought of becoming a police officer, but applied and got the job.

There was a lot of publicity – print and TV – which I really didn’t like. There were times in my training when I wasn’t sure if I should stay. There was no one to talk to. I told myself that if I quit, then it would be that much more difficult for other females to be given a chance.

In the Academy I had to wear my own clothes as I had not been issued a uniform. My first uniform was a shirt, skirt, heels and a purse in which to carry my snub nose revolver. I never carried the purse. A little over a year after my initial hire date I was issued the same uniform and equipment as the male officers.

During my 35-year career I was the first female promoted to every rank and retired as a Captain in 2008. I had the opportunity to work in and command almost every unit in my department.

My favorite job was as a patrol sergeant getting to work with, counsel and assist officers as they advanced in their careers. Later as a commander I worked to make sure every employee, sworn and non-sworn, had fair and equal opportunities for training and promotion. Eventually I also became an assessor with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. My assignments within the agency and with CALEA, I trust, helped maintain professionalism, fairness and understanding to some degree within law enforcement agencies and their communities.

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