Georgia Ann Hill Robinson was the first black female police officer to work at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
She was appointed an officer in 1919.
Robinson was born Georgia Ann Hill in Opelousas, Louisiana, on May 12, 1879, and was raised by her older sister. She grew up in a Roman Catholic convent.
Whilst in Los Angeles, Robinson worked with various community organizations. Her work with these groups attracted her to an LAPD recruiter, who persuaded her to join the force.
On July 25, 1916, she started volunteering for the LAPD at the age of 37. In 1919, Robinson became the city’s first black policewoman when she was hired as a jail matron.
She handled juvenile and homicide cases investigated by the department. As an investigator, Robinson saw a need for women’s shelter and thus establishing the Sojourner Truth Home for destitute women and girls.
Instead of arresting them, she referred young black women to social agencies. It led to one of the first attempts by the LAPD to provide services to the black community, dismissing the stereotype that African Americans were naturally inclined to crime.
Robinson’s career halted abruptly at the age of 49 after suffering a devastating head injury that left her permanently blind. Reportedly, she had attempted to resolve a squabble that ensued between two drunken women in her jail, but the resulting fight left Robinson visually impaired.
She retired living on disability.
“I have no regrets. I didn’t need my eyes any longer. I had seen all there was to see,” she told Ebony magazine in 1954.
Reportedly, her condition did not deter her from working; Robinson continued to work with community leaders like Dr. Claude Hudson, the longtime president of the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In a bid to desegregate Los Angeles schools and beaches, she continued to work with women in the shelter she’d helped to establish.
Robinson died on September 21, 1961.