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Va. officer was 'pioneer in policing'

Rosa Smith was partnered with the city's first female police officer for her entire career

By Arielle Retting
The Roanoke Times

ROANOKE, Va. — Rosa Lillian Adams Smith fearlessly walked the dark alleys and empty streets of downtown Roanoke for almost 20 years as the city's second female police officer. She died Sunday in Roanoke. She was 92.

Smith was hired in April 1944 and worked in the detective department until her retirement in August 1963. At the time she was hired, there were fewer than 200 women across the country working as police officers, Roanoke police said.

Family members say Smith often told stories of her days as an officer, patrolling downtown Roanoke and Highland Park. Her great-nephew recalled when Smith led an investigation and arrested a man that had attacked several women and killed a teenage girl in southwest Roanoke in 1947.

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