Marietta police honor first woman on the force

Dec. 2—MARIETTA — The Marietta Police Department and its retiree association honored women who have worked on the force in a ceremony at City Hall on Thursday.

Jack Shields, a retired sergeant who worked for the MPD for 33 years and now organizes the department's retiree club, had the idea for the ceremony when he heard Susan Fuder would be in town for the regular MPD retiree lunch.

Fuder, now in her 70s, became Marietta's first woman police officer in 1972. She was an officer for 10 years, during which she worked on patrol and in crime prevention.

"When Susan said she'd come to the luncheon I thought, 'Why don't we do something to honor her?'" Shields said.

Shields said he figured it would be a good opportunity to recognize all women police officers. He and Marietta Chief Marty Ferrell presented Fuder with a plaque for her service.

Fuder said when she applied to be an officer, the police chief at the time asked if she was sure she didn't want to be a secretary. She was sure — and had wanted to be a police officer since childhood.

When Fuder became an officer she said her first uniform was a skirt, despite her request for pants. That changed after she had to retrieve a stolen bicycle tossed in some brambles.

"Not only was my hose torn up, my legs looked like they'd been through a meat grinder," Fuder said.

Frank Fuder, her husband who coached football at Osborne and Campbell high schools, said at the time he was concerned about her safety.

"But knowing her, I knew whatever she did she'd do it first rate. And she did," Frank Fuder said.

Susan Fuder said women make good police officers because of their ability to deescalate situations with words rather than force. She also said policing is more difficult now because of public attitudes toward policing.

"Back then we had the Dixie Mafia and the Black Panthers, but we didn't really have any kind of disrespect from the public," Fuder said.

Jim Whitmire, Fuder's training officer who worked for MPD for 36 years, remembered some public apprehension when Fuder joined the MPD.

"The perception was, 'What the h--- is this?' But we made it through," Whitmire said.

During the ceremony Shields also gave awards to women who represented other firsts in the MPD, such as the first member of a SWAT team, first on a K-9 team and first detective. At the end of the ceremony, all the women officers in attendance gathered on the chamber floor for a picture with Fuder.

Fuder said she was surprised to see so many women serving on the force today in different roles and leadership positions, adding that those jobs weren't options for women when she was an officer.

In September, Deputy Chief Tanya Twaddell became the first woman to serve as the department's second-in-command.

Seeing the women of the MPD gathered together, Fuder was teary with pride.

"I've never met any one of you, but I've thought of you often," she said.

Fuder now lives in Panama City, Florida, where she appraises antiques.