Margie Hawkins Duty: First Black Woman Employed as a Police Officer in Houston, TX

0 Posted by - October 18, 2017 - Black First, Black History, BLACK WOMEN

Margie Annette Hawkins Duty, the first female African American to be employed as a police officer in Houston, was born in Jennings, Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, to Robert Hawkins and Alice Hawkins on August 28, 1922.

During the mid-twentieth century, white police officers in Houston often were reluctant to serve in neighborhoods that were predominantly black, so as the city grew, the department needed to hire additional black officers. Margie Duty learned of one or more job openings for police officers in the Houston Police Department. At that time there were a few male African-American officers in the department, but there had never been a female African-American officer employed there.

Duty applied for a job in the Houston Police Department and was hired in July 1953. She began a three-month training period but was not allowed to attend training at the police academy. Then, she was sworn in by Police Chief L. D. Morrison in November 1953. Duty’s original title was not “officer” but “matron.” One of her first assignments was to interview young black female crime victims, some of whom had been raped. She also was responsible for black (and only black) female inmates. In a gruesome case in July 1955, Officer Duty was involved in the investigation of a case in which a two-year-old girl (who was left unsupervised for a few minutes) beat a five-month-old baby girl to death with a large perfume bottle, a baby’s milk bottle, and a stick.

One of her first assignments was to interview young black female crime victims, some of whom had been raped. She also was responsible for black (and only black) female inmates. In a gruesome case in July 1955, Officer Duty was involved in the investigation of a case in which a two-year-old girl (who was left unsupervised for a few minutes) beat a five-month-old baby girl to death with a large perfume bottle, a baby’s milk bottle, and a stick.

During the first twenty-three years of Duty’s law-enforcement career, she worked as a plainclothes officer in the juvenile division. In later years, she transferred to the jail division and worked there as a uniformed officer.

 

original article found at:

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdu76

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