Gertrude Schimmel, 1918-2015 — the NYPD’s glass-ceiling-smasher

May 19, 2015

Editorial
May 15, 2015

Gertrude Schimmel was one of a kind.

Actually, the most telling tribute to her amazing and ground-breaking career is that, by the end of her life this week at age 96, she no longer was.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hunter College, Schimmel in 1940 became one of the NYPD’s first two uniformed policewomen.

But that didn’t necessarily make her an equal. Unlike their male counterparts, female officers had to be college graduates. And the department issued her a shoulder bag with a holster for a .38 revolver, a tube of lipstick, a compact and a case of rouge.

Two decades later, she and a colleague had to go to court to win the right to take promotional exams. In 1965, she became one of the first two women sergeants; two years later, she made lieutenant.

In 1971, Schimmel became the NYPD’s first female captain. Next she made deputy inspector, inspector and finally, in 1978, the first woman to rank as deputy chief.

And throughout her career, she worked both to ensure that the number of women in the NYPD would grow and that they’d get full policing assignments on street patrols and radio cars.

The kind of assignments, in other words, that had been denied her before she battled her way up the line of command.

Schimmel was no token. She earned her hard-fought promotions — and the respect and love of her longtime colleagues.

These days, Gertrude Schimmel’s career would still be considered impressive, but it’s one that any policewoman can hope to attain. And that’s her real legacy.

RIP.

Originally posted by the New York Post