The Kingsport School Mother Patrol, commissioned in 1953, worked to control and direct traffic in and around school zone intersections. The Mother Patrol started with three women on a trial basis. The women worked about 15 hours a week and were paid $60 a month.
According to the August 5, 1953 edition of the Kingsport Times News, “they would be regular traffic officers in every sense except they will work on a part-time basis. They will have the same authority as other police to make arrests and issue court summonses for traffic violations and will prosecute their cases in city court the same as the full-time policeman.”
From the same edition, Assistant City Manager C.K. Marsh was quoted as saying, “men can’t be obtained for part-time police duty, but the system fits right in with the schedule of many housewives whose husbands do not come home for lunch. ”
Reaction to the Mother Patrol varied throughout Kingsport and especially within the police department. The Kingsport Times-News, August 9, 1953 edition, reported that “for the most part the average patrolman on the beat welcomes the help that Kingsport’s first policewoman can afford. Others still regard the woman’s place at the home and not a busy intersection.”
“Handling law violaters is strictly a man’s job” said one patrolman. ” No comment” said another when asked their opinion on hiring women.
Overall, the Mother Patrol was highly effective and paved the way for Kingsport’s first full-time patrolwoman, Mrs. Harriett Grills. Grills was on the Mother Patrol squad but was hired in 1954 to work full-time on parking violations. The announcement in the paper began “Lipstick and nylon made their first official appearance on a police beat…”
*If you can help identify the women in the photo above, please let the archives know.*