APD celebrates 40 years of women on the force

The 55th cadet class of the Austin Police Department, including the first APD female patrol officers, on March 19, 1976
The 55th cadet class of the Austin Police Department, including the first APD female patrol officers, on March 19, 1976

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 1976, three officers became the first women to work patrol at the Austin Police Department.

Now, 40 years, later, there are 172 women in various ranks within the department. Thursday, the police department celebrated the anniversary by honoring its female officers at a luncheon at the Austin Police Association.

Sandra Christensen, Penny Hubert and Eunice Slaughter were the first women to graduate from the police academy, in the 55th cadet class. Maybelle Stout, who began working for the department in 1950, is considered the city’s first “police woman.” However, the manager of juvenile crime statistics was not allowed to work on patrol. In 1956, Jocelyn Deal succeeded Stout as the second police woman at APD.

It wasn’t until 20 years later that the first female sworn officers were hired, police said in a statement Thursday.

KXAN spoke with retired APD officer Elaine Martin, who was one of only three women to graduate from her cadet class, “At no time during my career did I work with another woman even when I attended other classes… breathalyzer school, assault and death school at the DPS. I was the only woman. So what a thrill to be able to hear and see such accomplished women and women who have risen through the ranks,” she said.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley commended the women, saying, “I have worked alongside many great female police officers and observed their great accomplishments.”

The 55th cadet class of the Austin Police Department, including the first APD female patrol officers, on March 19, 1976
The 55th cadet class of the Austin Police Department, including the first APD female patrol officers, on March 19, 1976