LAPD wants to name police station after 1st female deputy chief

Margaret York was part of the department's first all-female homicide detective team that served as inspiration for the 1980s television series "Cagney & Lacey"

By Nathaniel Percy
Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday, March 1, unanimously recommended naming one of the Police Department’s stations after the first female deputy chief, a woman who had already been a groundbreaking cop and helped inspire a TV show.

Adding her name to the department’s Northeast Station was “one way we can memorialize the legacy of a trailblazer,” Cmdr. Ruby Flores told the commission while briefly discussing the legacy of Margaret Ann “Peggy” York, part of the department’s first all-female homicide detective team that served as inspiration for the 1980s television series “Cagney & Lacey.”

Margaret York is shown in 1992 in her office.
Margaret York is shown in 1992 in her office. (Photo/Gus Ruelas of Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

“They never sought out to be trailblazers or ever think that this TV show would take off,” Flores said. “This was sadly because no one else wanted to work with the two women.”

The vote by the commissioners sent the recommendation to the City Council for consideration, with a motion coming as early as the City Council meeting on Wednesday, March 2.

The department chose the Northeast Station, which sits just south of the southern border of Glendale, because York was based there during her time as a detective, Flores said.

Plans to memorialize York at the station would include adding her name to the front of the building and installing a plaque that includes her photo and a biography that recounts her achievements.

York, who retired from the LAPD in 2002 and lived in Pasadena, died Oct. 17 at 80 years old.

Upon news of her passing, LAPD Chief Michel Moore described her as a “consummate professional” and “pioneer.”

Born in Canton, Ohio, York got a job with the LAPD as a civilian radio telephone operator in 1965. Three years later, she was appointed as a policewoman during a time when women on the force could only work desk jobs or in jails, could not be promoted past the rank of sergeant and could only supervise other women.

After the establishment of the Fanchon Blake Federal Consent Decree, which allowed women and minorities the ability to advance and receive equal benefits, York “began shattering the glass ceilings that previously suppressed women’s advancement through the ranks,” Chief Moore said in a memo suggesting the station’s name change.

York was teamed with Helen Kidder as the first all-female homicide detective team within the LAPD.

“We were big news because nowhere else in L.A. County were women working homicide,” Kidder told the New York Times in October.

She attributed the pair’s success rate for filing cases to their ability to listen to people.

“We didn’t start putting words in their mouths,” she said. “We gave them a chance to tell their stories.”

York eventually earned the ranks of investigator, detective supervisor, lieutenant, captain and commander before becoming LAPD’s first female deputy chief under then-Police Chief Bernard Marks.

She was married to retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who presided over O.J. Simpson’s double-murder criminal trial in the mid-’90s.

As of 2020, women made up about 18 percent of LAPD’s sworn officers, Flores said.

“Her legacy is deserving of a permanent acknowledgment and tangible expression of gratitude for the path she paved for all women who followed her footsteps,” Moore wrote.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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