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First woman police officer of Saginaw, Michigan turns 85


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    SAGINAW, Michigan (WNEM) — Today is Joy Zissler’s 85th birthday. A milestone in itself, but the story of how much of a trailblazer this woman is begins in 1960.

“My mother actually saw an ad in the paper that the city was going to hire a policewoman,” Zissler said.

So, Zissler became the first uniformed policewoman in Saginaw. She didn’t stop there.

In 1970 she began the legal battle for equal pay and benefits as her male counterparts.

“I had more of the male officers volunteer to testify than we could use in the court case,” Zissler said.

Six years, and seven lawyers later, she won, paving the way for every female police officer after her. Not all the men on the force welcomed Zissler with open arms.

“Some of them never came around and I always felt sorry for their wives, wondering how they treated them,” Zissler said.

Zissler remained on the force for nearly 30 years, until her retirement in 1989. She has since moved to Wisconsin, with her daughter, Melissa.

“Mom was a great example of what women–you know, –she taught us that women could do anything,” Melissa Zissler-Longtine, Joy’s daughter said.

Today the city of Saginaw employs eight female police officers.

“I’m just pleased that that’s how I chose to spend my career,” Zissler said.

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