Roanoke, Virignia's Second Female Police Officer Dies | The Mary Sue
Skip to main content

Roanoke, Virignia’s Second Female Police Officer Dies

Today in Boobs

 

Rosa Lillian Adams Smith was the second woman to be hired by the Roanoke Police Department in Virginia. She began her work in 1944 and dedicated twenty years of her life to crime fighting. She passed away earlier this week at the age of 92. Read on for her story. 

According to a report from Roanoke.com, “Smith was hired in April 1944 and worked in the detective department until her retirement in August 1963. At the time she was hired, there were fewer than 200 women across the country working as police officers, Roanoke police said.”

For the duration of her time with the department, Smith was partnered with their only other female officer at the time (and the first for the city), Hazel Garst who passed away in 2000. “As the only female officers, they were responsible for all female prisoners in addition to their other responsibilities, her great-nephew Danny Adams said. ‘She did everything from arresting to frisking to transporting, interrogation, everything,’ Adams said of her role with female prisoners.”

Here’s the lone shot we could find of Smith.

“Smith was hired in April 1944 and worked in the detective department until her retirement in August 1963. At the time she was hired, there were fewer than 200 women across the country working as police officers, Roanoke police said.” Adams said she would often tell stories from her time on the force, particularly an investigation she led in 1947 that resulted in the capture of a man who attacked several women and killed a teenage girl.

The site writes, “She often used herself as bait to attract and arrest sex offenders and other attackers, which is how she caught a notorious flasher in southwest Roanoke, [Adams] said. She dressed up and went out alone several nights a week, keeping a gun hidden, to see if anyone would approach or try to attack her. One night a man came up and flashed her, and she flashed her badge.”

Her other nephew Bob Adams said, “It was a tough life for a woman in those days.”

“She would often respond to calls about domestic disputes and abuse,” they continued. “After trying to mediate a conversation between family members, Smith would often follow up later to see how the family was doing. She would bring them things such as food and clothes, and she would also talk to them. Her ability to calm people down and sympathize with them helped her greatly.”

The Roanoke Police Department called her a “pioneer in policing.”

(via Roanoke.com)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” (TheNerdyBird.com). She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."