WOMEN IN POLICING OF THE RBPF
During the 1960’s, the presence of women in the Bahamas became more recognized. It began with an Act giving women the right to vote and sit in the Legislature. Women received their first voting opportunity during an election held in November 1962. In 1964, women were given the opportunity to join the Royal Bahamas Police Force and 122 women applied to become police officers.
The six (6) females who began training on November 23, 1964, under the supervision of Sergeant 286 Audrey Weigh were: Anita Bethel, Theresa Baker, Norma Clarke, Alsaida McFall, Hildred McClain and Esther Stubbs. Sergeant Weigh had previous experience with the Metropolitan Police Force in Yorkshire England. She served in the Royal Bahamas Police Force until December 24, 1966, when she resigned. The first gazetted female police officer was Assistant Superintendent Danby, also from England. She joined in 1968 and resigned in 1970.
Prior to the admission of females as police officers, the organization relied on the services of a female civilian. This woman was referred to as a Matron. Her responsibility was to assist male officers whenever females or children were in Police custody. It is not known who the first Matron of the Police Force was.
However, record dating far back as December 1912, indicate that sleeping quarters were made available for her at Central Police Station. From the 1930s and throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Mrs. Clothida Blackman served as Matron. She was a qualified nurse and wife of former Sergeant 67 Blackman.
The suggestion to bring females into the Force was presented by Spurgeon Bethel during his term in the House of Assembly, on April 11, 1963. Mr. Bethel had served on the Force briefly during the 1940s, so he was aware of the role that women could play.
All policewomen receive the same training as their male counterparts. Since that first squad of females, women have moved into a variety of areas in the Force.
Special note is given to those who were the first in their area.
- The first Bahamian female gazetted officer was Superintendent Allerdyce M. Strachan who attained this position on May 1988. She was responsible for Women Police and Personnel.
- Ms. Dorothy Davis was the first Bahamian Woman to attain the rank of Inspector, on June 27, 1979. She also worked as a prosecutor.
- The First Woman Police Fingerprint Expert and Photographer was Assistant Superintendent Delmeta Turnquest. She studied at Durham Constabulary in Durham, England in 1970.
- On October 1, 1987, Inspector Denise Tynes was the first female to enter at this rank in the Force. She joined the staff of the Forensic Science Laboratory.
- WPC 976 Ruby Collie-Saunders, was the first woman motorcyclist. She drew a lot of attention when she first appeared on her motorcycle.
- WPC 1028 Douglas was the first to enter the world famous Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.
- WPC 1632 Killy Heastie was the first female attached to the Airwing Section, January 9, 1985.
- WPC 1572 Pauline Ferguson was the first female to become a dog handler in1984.
- Today's female officers at work.