Getting the best of you.
Getting the best of you.

Imagine that it’s the early 20th century and some bozo in an automobile hits you and totally wrecks your wagon. You write to the bro to ask politely for restitution, and dude’s like, “Nah. Instead, I’m gonna blackmail you and threaten to kidnap your sister! And I can do that because I’m a rich white male!”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

If you are Constance Kopp, America’s first female deputy sheriff, you would hunt down that motherfucker and his cronies and make them PAY.

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Kopp’s story is another one I came across while checking out library stacks. Amy Stewart published Girl Waits with Gun in 2015 and its follow-up, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, the next year. At first I thought Girl was a wonderful fiction novel, but then I realized it was true and Constance Kopp actually lived through the nightmare of blackmailing and harassment.

Not many cops wanted to help Kopp when she came to them with evidence of Henry Kaufman’s failure of repayment for the accident and further blackmailing. Kaufman was a rich and powerful silk manufacturer with possible ties to the mob. Kopp was a woman—and an odd one at that. Tall, sturdy, and unmarried, she was gawked at and talked down to whenever she tried to get help. However, Kopp was stronger and smarter than many men on the force. She knew she could take down Kaufman on her own if she had to.

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There are several primary articles about Kopp found on the Library of Congress’ website. It’s interesting (and aggravating) to note that most of the papers insisted on calling her a girl or “girl cop” even though she was 35 years old when the auto/buggy accident occurred.

I’d like to end with a quote from Kopp that makes me think she would be a leader of the resistance today:

“Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.”

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..... But how did she end up a deputy sheriff?? CHECK OUT THE BOOKS!

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