In August 1962, New York City cops began patrolling the streets at night while dressed as women. The idea was to trap would-be muggers.
But not all the decoy cops were successful at apprehending the muggers. Patrolman Victor Ortiz got hit over the head by a mugger, lost his gun, and his assailant got away.
Author Erika Janik discusses Operation Decoy in her book Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction
. She places it within the context of an ongoing resistance within the police department during the mid-twentieth century to the idea of having female police officers:
By the 1960s, this attitude had become entrenched in police administration and law enforcement literature. Police Juvenile Enforcement declared that while a policewoman could be an asset, "a female officer is not a necessity."
Some even went so far as to suggest that male officers could simply dress as women for undercover work. In 1962, eight male officers did just that in order to trap muggers and rapists in New York City. "We want our men to look like housewives, not like Hollywood stars," explained Inspector Michael Codd, head of the tctical force. Twenty-seven-year-old patrolman Victor Ortiz wore white sandals, orange tapered pants, and a beige padded sweater on top of a bright print blouse. On hand to help the officers get ready were two policewomen, Caryl Collins and Dolores Munroe. The women stood by in their official uniforms as the men posed for the TV and newspaper cameras. Why teaching men to wear heels and put on lipstick was deemed more useful than simply deploying policewomen seems a question the reporters never asked. It's true that decoys did get attacked as part of these operations (that was the point), but all officers worked in teams with detectives standing by to apprehend suspects. In this instance, two of the disguised policemen had their purses snatched in Central Park and seven people were arrested in the overnight anti-mugging operation.
Orlando Evening Star - Aug 25, 1962
Greenville News - Aug 24, 1962
Allentown Morning Call - Aug 28, 1962