1918 – 2001
Rosie Mason was a law enforcement trailblazer, working 39 years in the Kansas City Police Department and serving as its first African American female officer. Born in Arkansas in 1918, she began her career in the department as an elevator operator in 1944. Mason made such a positive impression that the police chief recommended her for casework in the juvenile bureau in 1954. She wore a badge and carried a gun but worked as a civilian until the Police Academy began admitting women more than a decade later. Mason graduated from the academy in 1967 and spent the next 15 years as a sworn officer and detective.
She also was active in the International Association of Women Police (IAWP), joining the organization in 1967 and serving as its president from 1976-80. After her age-mandated retirement from the police department in 1982, she became executive director of the 820-member IAWP. Universally commended for her kindness, professionalism, and immaculate personal style, Mason was a committed and compassionate public servant. “It’s the child abuse cases that hurt the most,” she once said. “Turning one of these young people around seems one of the most significant jobs one can do.”