First African American woman to become LAPD lieutenant dead at 83

The first black woman to reach the rank of lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department has died at 83

Marion Hellenkamp, the first black woman to reach the rank of lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department, has died, police officials announced Monday. She was 83.

On Dec. 11, 1961, Hellenkamp, then 30, became an officer with the department.

During a career that spanned 26 years, she worked as a detective with the Southwest Division and served as watch commander in the Wilshire area.

In 1981, Hellenkamp was appointed to the rank of lieutenant, a position she held at her retirement on Feb. 14, 1987.

“As a female in a male-dominated occupation, she displayed tremendous fortitude in overcoming both gender and racial discrimination to forge an exemplary law enforcement career,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement.

“We lost a truly remarkable public servant and a champion of equal rights for all, and an example that barriers can be broken.”

Hellenkamp died March 14. The cause of her death was not released.

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