The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin: How New York’s First Female Police Detective Cracked the Crime of the CenturyByliner August 17, 2011
Isabella Goodwin had never received a phone call from headquarters before. There would be no reason for a commissioner to summon her. How much was there to say to a police matron? “Go check Miss Bootlegger in the back cell” or “The heel woman needs water” or “Mop up the spill under the narrow-back’s bed.”
But the diminutive, sharp-eyed, forty-seven-year-old Mrs. Isabella Goodwin could make people believe she was anyone she chose. Old-fashioned gold combs in her neat hair, a bulky wool uniform spotless on her tiny frame, she could nevertheless lie to thugs towering over her and never flinch. She could stroll on her tiny feet into musty back rooms, the only escape blocked by the man she intended to arrest, and never lose the simmer in her voice. And that was why, from time to time, this lowly police matron was called upon to step into disguise.
She left her regular duties at the Mercer station to hurry to headquarters. Sixteen years on the force with no prospect for advancement, no possible way to rise above her $1,000-a-year salary. As police matron, she might work long hours, never fail at a task, and never qualify for anything higher, because there was no higher post for a woman.
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