Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

Busting the Brass Ceiling: Women in Policing

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Fanchon Blake joined the LAPD in 1948 and walked a beat in a skirt and heels for three years. Her ambition to rise in the ranks would be curtailed by an increasingly discriminatory agenda, but her relentless tenacity finally led to a promotion to sergeant 19 years later. When LAPD policy barred her from rising any further and threatened to eliminate women from the department, she sued. The historic case would change the face of policing around the country.

In this webinar presented by USC Safe Communities Institute, USC Department of Public Safety, Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates and the Los Angeles Police Museum, a panel discusses Blake’s book, Busting the Brass Ceiling. Featuring current and former LAPD trailblazers retired Deputy Chief Margaret “Peggy” York; retired Captain Ann E. Young; Commander Ruby Flores; Busting the Brass Ceiling co-author Linden Gross; and USC Department of Public Safety Operations Bureau Assistant Chief Alma Burke. Moderated by Fox 11 news anchor Christine Devine.

Who Will Benefit

– Those seeking a deeper historical context of women in policing and the strides they have made
– Law enforcement professionals looking to promote change from within their agencies
– Those who want to understand the challenges women law enforcement officers still face today

About Our Featured Faculty

Alma Burke, a former sergeant II with the Los Angeles Police Department, is the USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) assistant chief, Operations Bureau. She began her law enforcement career with the LAPD in 1996. After graduating from the Los Angeles Police Academy, she went on to work as a training officer, detective, sergeant and officer in charge. While she was officer in charge of the 77th Area Vice Unit, she helped draft a crime prevention strategy grant that would reduce violent crime to historic lows in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. As part of a larger plan, Alma assisted with a task force that sought to bring justice to human trafficking victims across the county.

Burke received her Executive Master of Leadership from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, and she was later appointed Southeast Area sergeant II. She was assigned to the Community Safety Partnership and was part of the leadership team that supervised 40 officers that patrolled the five housing developments in the Watts Area. The efforts of this unit have brought some recent notoriety by the New York Times and 20/20 news media and a film documentary, A Week in Watts.