Dedication of Gail Cobb Way – First Female African American Police Officer Killed in Line of Duty

Gail Cobb in uniformOn December 23, 2020, the area at 14th and D streets, NE will be dedicated as “Gail Cobb Way” in a ceremony to honor Gail Cobb who was the first uniformed female African American police officer killed in the line of duty in the United States.

Cobb served with loyalty and distinction until, on September 20, 1974, she was shot and killed after an attempted robbery of the Eastern Liberty Federal Savings and Loan office at 21st and K streets, NW. Additionally, Cobb encountered the suspect and as she called for backup, he shot her. The bullet entered her wrist and then heart. She was also just 24 years old.

At her passing, the men and women of the MPD paid their respects and lined the streets at the 1400 block of D Street, NE and the 300 block of 14th Place, NE with police cruisers. Her death was also recognized by President Gerald Ford, DC Mayor Walter Washington and many others. The DC City Council passed a bill in October of this year to change the name of the area.

Cobb is one of the many officers the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Memorial is working to honor with a memorial wall. Additionally, 121 officers have died in the line of duty since the MPD was established.

Won’t you help us honor Cobb’s memory and sacrifice with a donation to help us build the wall?

Read more about Officer Cobb

Memorial Wall

 

Read the Announcement from the DC FOP Lodge #1

Dedication of Gail Cobb Way

December 23, 2020 – 1530 hrs – 14th and D Street NE

On Wednesday, December 23, the area at 14th and D Street NE will be dedicated as “Gail Cobb Way” in a ceremony that begins at 1530 hrs.

Gail A. Cobb was the first African American female officer killed in the line of duty. On the day of her death, the 1400th block of D Street, N.E. and the 300 block of 14th Place, N.E. were lined with police cruisers as the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department paid their respects to Officer Cobb, their fallen comrade. Officer Cobb’s death was recognized by United States President Gerald Ford, District of Columbia Mayor Walter Washington, and other local and national government officials. Officer Cobb was not only a heroine to her colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Department and to her city. But she continues to serve as a role model for young women across the country who wish to serve their communities.

Her Story

Officer Cobb was born on August 17, 1950 in Washington, DC to Clinton and Gloria Jones Cobb. Her father also applied to the Metropolitan Police Department in 1953 but was rejected due to his height. He went on to work at the Department of Corrections in 1955, becoming an instructor at the training academy and night shift captain of the DC Jail until 1973.

Ms. Cobb began working for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in 1973 as one of the first female police officers in the Department. MPD was amongst the first large police departments to hire women as patrol officers which began in 1972. Cobb was admitted to the police training academy after MPD reduced the height requirement to 5 feet in an effort to recruit more female officers.

During her tenure with the Department, Officer Cobb also served the District of Columbia with loyalty and distinction. On September 20, 1974, Officer Cobb was tragically shot and killed during the attempted robbery of the Eastern Liberty Federal Savings and Loan office at 21st and K Streets, N.W. Two suspects had also been approached by officers outside of the bank and got into a physical altercation with the responding officers. The suspects fled the scene while shooting at the officers with a sawed-off shotgun. After a foot chase, the suspects evaded the responding officers. One of the suspects entered a parking garage a few blocks away, and Officer Gail Cobb was alerted to the suspect.

During a search of the garage, Officer Cobb encountered the suspect, John Bryant, coming out of a restroom. Officer Cobb ordered Bryant to put his hands on the wall. As she called for backup, Bryant suddenly drew a gun and fired at Officer Cobb. The bullet went through her wrist and into her heart. She was rushed to George Washington University where she was pronounced dead. Another officer also apprehended Bryant. The second robbery suspect was eventually identified and arrested.

The D.C. Council passed a bill in October 2020 to change the name of the 300 block of 14th Place NE. According to WJLA, Officer Cobb’s father, Clinton Cobb said he and his wife are glad they’ve lived long enough for this day to come.