Emma Christy Baker blazed a path for African-American women when she became the first black female officer on the Indianapolis Police Department. Baker was well known in Indianapolis as the owner of a laundry business. She was a member of Bethel AME Church, Old Settlers Social and Civic Club and the Loyal Legion. Baker received the same wage and probationary period as male officers. Baker was one of 13 officers in the female wing.
Baker was born on February 10, 1865 in Salem, in Washington County, Indiana to William W. and Hester Christy, Free African Americans who settled there in the 1830’s from the Newberry District, South Carolina. She graduated from Public School Number 17 and Shortridge High School. Her family was well known in the African-American community in Indianapolis. Her father owned a successful laundry where she worked for many years.
On June 15, 1918, Emma Baker became the first woman and the first black woman to be a police officer for the Indianapolis Police
Department. Based on the recommendations in a 1917 report of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research that Indianapolis should employ policewomen to work outside the police station, thirteen policewomen (including two African-Americans) and a woman police sergeant were appointed to the Indianapolis Police Department at a special meeting of the Board of Public Safety on June 16, 1918. During World War I, Emma and Clara Burnside became the first women to work outside the station, patrolling public places Downtown. Her primary duties were performing undercover shoplift and petty theft details. She wore a badge and earned the same rate of pay as male officers.