Eva L. Corning is one of two police-women appointed under civil service commission rules in Topeka during the administration of Mayor R.L. Cofran, 1913. She was, moreover, the second police-woman in the United States under civil service -- Alice Stebbins Wells of Los Angeles being the first.
The system for Topeka was introduced by the Good Government Club, the largest civic organization in Kansas. In recognition of its services for the welfare of Topeka, Mayor Cofran appointed from the Good Government Club an advisory council of women to work with the city administration. It was the council which recommended to the mayor police-women for Topeka. Mayor Cofran's successor, Mayor Jay E. House, elected this year, has never been in favor of this line of reform in police work, and has discontinued the services of the women members of the force, thus allowing Topeka to step back into the old style of police work, though the city's example has been taken up by Wichita and Hutchinson, Kansas, and by some forty eastern and western cities.
The "beat" which Miss Corning traveled lay among dance-hals, at the "movies," in cafès and at railroad stations. Her only insignia of office were a badge and a whistle. Her duties ranged from adjusting a dispute between a laundress and her employer to talking things over with some youthful "hobo." She enforced the anti-smoking and curfew laws; returned runaways to parents and smoothed out family difficulties; and dissuaded many young girls from recklessness and disgrace.
In reviewing her work, Miss Corning states that she had personal work with 168 girls and 135 older women. Homes and employment were found for the girls, most of whom were homeless and friendless, the Y.W.C.A. and the Provident Association co-operating. A number of cases were of girls stealing from their employers, sometimes money but usually pretty things to wear. In every instance the goods were returned and the girls given another chance. Forty-nine boys were counseled and helped out of difficulties without being taken to the juvenile court. Twenty arrests were made, mostly boys violating the anti-smoking law, and many children sent home from parks and streets under curfew law. Twenty-six cases of women and girls in neighborhood difficulties were settled out of court. In addition Miss Corning records talks to hundreds of school children and seventy-five investigations of disorderly and unsanitary conditions which were reported to various city departments.