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Josephine Serrano Collier, First Latina LAPD Officer, Dies At 91

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Josephine Serrano Collier, who became the first Latina LAPD officer when she joined the force more than 60 years ago, has died at the age of 91.

Collier died on Feb. 25 at her home in Arizona, according to an LAPD press release.

Collier, who grew up in Lincoln Heights, worked on building P-38 Ventura fighter planes for Lockheed before being let go in favor of returning male veterans, according to the LAPD. Against her family's wishes, she applied to become a police officer in 1946. She was one of only nine out of 200 female applicants to make it to the force.

When her all-female class graduated, they received no ceremony, didn't get diplomas and didn't get a gun, according to the Women's Peace Officer Archives. When Serrano was transferred to the Lincoln Heights jail, she wore a nurse's outfit because no uniforms for women were created at the time. She would often work the night beat around Pershing Square, where she would arrest men looking for prostitutes along with her fellow lady cops.

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It was in the LAPD when she met Darwin "Jack" Collier, whom she would marry. She eventually had to retire in 1960 due to back problems, and worked in the L.A. job corps before moving with her husband to Idaho and then to Arizona, where she died on Feb. 25.

Chief Charlie Beck had this to say about Collier's passing:

“In great sadness but with the utmost gratitude, our Department thanks Josephine for her sacrifices and for breaking the lines that divided women from many assignments in the early history of LAPD,” said Chief Beck. “Those sacrifices and her commitment opened the door for many women and Latinas in the Department, setting the stage for future generations.”