SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – A young kidnapping victim and someone who grew up with a deep mistrust of police went on to become Sacramento’s first female police officers in 1974.
It was a time when, some say, race and gender discrimination were acceptable and went on without question or consequence.
But a traumatic ordeal and witnessing incidents of racism eventually led Flossie Crump and Felicia Allen to a career in law enforcement.
Crump’s journey began at a young age. She says she was kidnapped by an older white man. Her mom chose not to report it to police because, Crump says, she didn’t want her daughter victimized further.
“That added to my desire to try to make things better for other young women, or young girls that would go through something similar. And I didn’t want them to feel or their parents to feel they could not go to the police with their issues because of something like that,” Crump said.
“I was just the opposite. I had no interest in being a police officer whatsoever,” Allen said.
At the time, Allen was working in the criminal justice department at Sac State, with aspirations of being a probation officer, who could help young Black men that had negative contact with police get through the system.
She says witnessing racist cops in action, turned her off to police.
“Snuck away from school, high school. My girlfriends and I were in Oak Park when the riots were going on in ’68. And we saw two officers just beat up a kid,” Allen said. “We hopped in the car and scooted back to North Highlands where we were supposed to be. But that stuck with me.”
Both women credit a recruitment officer Leon Taylor for encouraging them to apply to the police department.
Allen and Crump were just 22 and 24 when they went through the police academy. There were no police uniforms made for women at that time. So they wore mens, which had to be altered.
They also shared a locker room with the guys.
They had a small but strong circle of supporters within the department, along with really good training officers – all who wanted to see them succeed.
Allen would go on to work two successful eight-year stints in patrol, which she loved, interacting with the community. But that wasn’t without much sacrifice, especially when it came to special assignments.
“The guys were, it was like they were punishing me for making it in patrol for so long. I would be number two on the list. They’d only hire two. I would have sergeants tell me, ‘No, I can’t hire you because I’ve already got a Black guy here,’” she said. “And they wouldn’t say it in a nice way. Or, ‘I can’t put a woman there. No, they won’t let me.’”
For Crump, the majority of her 25-year career would be as a detective, whose cases included working homicides, sex crimes and robberies.
But she didn’t learn of her promotion from a supervisor. Instead, she says, anonymous officers antagonized her.
“I’m getting these phone calls. Really nasty, racist, degrading phone calls at home,” she said.
But in spite of all the shortcomings and attempts to make them fail, these extraordinary women persevered and prospered.
For being trailblazers within the Sacramento Police Department, Chief Daniel Hahn dedicated the department’s atrium to them in 2018.
And the torch has been handed down.
Crump’s niece, American poet Amanda Gorman, spoke during the presidential inauguration.
“We are extremely proud of her. She is an inspiration. And encouragement, particularly for my 9-year-old granddaughter. And for every little Black girl that if you work hard, education and you treat people the way you like to be treated, the world is basically yours,” Crump said.