The Fight for Women’s Equality That Changed the Face of Policing

(Linden Gross)

My new book, Busting the Brass Ceiling: How One Heroic Female Cop Changed the Face of Policing, isn’t just the story of how my co-author Fanchon Blake wound up having to sue the LAPD for sex discrimination after serving there as an officer for more than 20 years. And it isn’t just the story of the seven-year legal battle that would change the very white and very male face of policing across the country. Fanchon’s commentary about law enforcement and the conditions on and off the force that contribute to excessive force is surprisingly on point, considering that she originally wrote most of it decades ago. Her prescient insights into the police status quo—including the propensity to violence –could have been written today and provide answers to many current questions about policing. Even more importantly, her case reminds us that while legal recourse can often seem unbearably slow, changing laws changes society. 

Busting the Brass Ceiling opens with Fanchon’s experience on the LAPD, which she joined in 1948. For her first three years, she walked a beat in a skirt, a girdle and heels. Although her ambition to rise in the ranks was curtailed by an increasingly discriminatory agenda, her relentless tenacity finally led to a promotion to sergeant nineteen years later. In 1973, when LAPD policy barred her from rising any further and threatened to eliminate women from the department, she sued, thereby initiating one of the country’s landmark Title VII cases with little to no help from anyone. 

Fanchon had no idea what she was getting herself into, nor how much she would be made to pay for violating the LAPD’s codes of silence and loyalty. But today, because of her efforts, 18 percent of the LAPD’s sworn officers, who used to be almost exclusively male and white, are women and 70 percent are non-white.

Fanchon, who spent the last years of her life in Bend, knew this was an important story, so she wanted it traditionally published. When that didn’t happen, she refused to consider self-publishing. Fortunately, she was able to hold a copy of her bound memoir in her hands before she passed at age 93 since, at the time, I had a bookbinding setup at home. But her story deserved to be told. So, with the blessing of her niece, Shelley Maurice-Maier, P.A., I decided to take the plunge, rewrite it and self-publish it with the help of my team at Incubation Press.

Books these days, especially self-published ones, live and die by their reviews. No reviews, no readers. So I’d love for you to read my new book and to review it on Amazon at (just scroll to the bottom of the page to the Review this Product tab) and on Goodreads at The review doesn’t have to be lengthy—two or three sentences make a huge difference.

For those of you who aren’t sure what to write in your short review, here are five ideas you can mix and match:

  1. A one-sentence summary of the book.
  2. An aspect of the book—a character, a setting, a theme—that you liked and why.
  3. The author’s writing prowess or commentary.
  4. Other books or writers this one reminded you of.
  5. Why you agree with one of the book’s endorsements, which you’ll find in the book’s opening pages.

If you feel this memoir is worth sharing, it would also be fantastic if you could spread the word to your networks of friends, family, colleagues or whomever else makes sense. Thanks in advance for the support. I know Fanchon would be thrilled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *