The Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday mourned the loss of retired Deputy Chief Margaret A. “Peggy” York, the first woman to hold that rank. York died Sunday at age 80.
Described as a trailblazer by her peers, York was first appointed to the LAPD in 1965 as a radio telephone operator and worked in that capacity until 1968 when she entered the police academy, becoming a policewoman on April 22, 1968 — a time when women were only allowed to work certain assignments.
“She joined policing at a time when women were faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday, describing her as a “consummate professional” and “pioneer.”
During her tenure, York worked a variety of assignments as an investigator — most notably as one-half of an all-female homicide investigation team which inspired the 1980s television show “Cagney and Lacey” — and went on to become a supervisor, lieutenant, captain and commander, culminating her career as the first female deputy chief of the department.
“She demonstrated true grit and utilized her talents to ascend to the highest ranks within the department,” Moore said. “Along the way, she touched many lives, and it was truly an honor to have worked alongside such a humble leader. Her tenacity and spirit continue to inspire future generations of women joining our ranks.”
York — born August 4, 1941 in Canton, Ohio — retired from the LAPD on November 17, 2002, and was last assigned to Operations-Central Bureau. She later was appointed the Chief of Police for the Los Angeles County Police and worked as a consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, founding the Margaret York Company consulting and investigations firm and serving as its president and CEO.
The Los Angeles Police Women Police Officers and Associates President Commander Ruby Flores issued a statement about the inspirational example York set for countless women in the LAPD.
“(York) was not afraid to challenge conventional roles for women … The law enforcement community is poorer without her intellect, her wisdom and her generosity,” Flores said. “We lost a titan of a woman, but her legacy and contribution towards the advancement of women on the LAPD will live on.”