After three decades, Papillion's first female cop is retiring -
Published Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:21 pm
After three decades, Papillion's first female cop is retiring

Soon after Cathy Glesmann became Papillion's first female police officer in 1982, she was tested when she responded to a tense bar fight.

Everyone in the bar seemed to be assessing this 6-foot-tall blonde who walked in with a badge that said “patrol man.” One guy in the back grabbed a pool cue.

Glesmann addressed the most aggressive of the patrons.

“Your mother always told you never hit a girl, right?” she asked.


“I'm a girl. Fight's over.”

And just like that, it was.

That kind of deft touch with people turned Glesmann, now 55, into a community fixture in Papillion over the past three decades.

Last month, the city's first female officer became Papillion's first officer to stay with the force until retirement.

Glesmann moved into police work after her first dream of being a park ranger didn't pan out. She applied to several agencies and ended up at Papillion.

At the time, she said, she didn't really think about being the first woman. The job just seemed like a good fit.

Glesmann joined eight men to make up the entire Papillion police force at the time. Now there are 37 officers.

Papillion wasn't on the leading edge in hiring women officers — three women broke the gender barrier in the Omaha Police Department, for example, back in 1961.

Current Papillion Sgt. Steve Young, who started at the same time as Glesmann, said she always had a knack for policing. That made it easy for male officers to accept her.

Female officers in a sampling of local law enforcement agencies
Omaha Police Department
142 women
18% of 779 total sworn officers
Sarpy County Sheriff's Office
28 women
22% of 129 officers
Bellevue Police Department
6 women
6% of 95 officers
Papillion Police Department
4 women
11% of 37 officers
La Vista Police Department
2 women
6% of 33 officers
Ralston Police Department
1 woman
8% of 13 officers

Not everyone was as supportive. Someone from another agency once told her the only reasons women became cops were to have sex or find a husband.

She was pregnant and married at the time.

In Papillion, though, her fellow officers quickly found that it was useful to have a woman like Glesmann on the force. And her success helped the women who followed in the Papillion department.

“Whether Cathy made it or not was going to have a big impact,” Young said.

Children and animals gravitated toward her in tough situations. She seemed to know everything and everyone in Papillion, and she used that to her advantage.

Glesmann could be tough, once chasing a bad guy over a balcony when she was five months pregnant. But she also was good at calming people down before things became violent.

Glesmann just seems to have a sixth sense about people, her colleagues said.

“I wish I knew half as much as she did about being a police officer,” said Detective Kathy Mattern.

When Mattern arrived 11 years ago, the department had grown, as had the number of women. By then, Glesmann had been promoted to corporal and was training new officers, formally and informally.

“She didn't officially train me,” Mattern said. “But I tell you, I've received more unofficial training through Cathy than any other officer on this department.”

Glesmann's career included a lot of firsts. She was Papillion's first DARE officer and its first drug recognition expert.

She was the city's first pregnant cop — and its second.

But her legacy in Papillion is more than all her firsts.

Mark Meisinger was in high school in the 1990s when Glesmann came to arrest him for a warrant. He was walking toward the door, ready to bolt, when he heard his former DARE officer yell, “Markie!”

“If it was anybody else, I would have been gone,” Meisinger said.

Though Glesmann arrested him that day, she knew he wasn't a bad kid, and she looked out for Meisinger when she saw him around town. She even showed up to the hospital after he got in a car accident.

She always pushed him to pull himself together, as Meisinger recalls. He eventually did, and now he's a defense attorney in Dallas.

“She's got probably the best character of any cop I've ever met,” Meisinger said.

Now Glesmann is blazing another trail: a path to retirement.

While on the job last November, she was in a car accident that left her with a limited range of motion in her shoulders.

“I really wasn't ready to retire, but because of injuries from my car crash, it was time to hang it up,” she said.

City officials say she's the first officer ever to retire from the 60-year-old department. Officers in the past have traditionally used the Papillion job as a stepping stone to move on to larger police departments or private-sector jobs with better benefits.

At a ceremony at a recent City Council meeting, Mayor David Black and Police Chief Leonard Houloose honored Glesmann for her service.

Houloose presented her an honorary badge. No longer a “patrol man,” she now bears the title of “retired corporal.”

World-Herald staff writer Erin Duffy contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Roseann Moring    |   402-444-1084    |  

Roseann covers Bellevue and Sarpy County crime.

Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »