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Special Collections and Archives: Activist Women Oral History Project: H

Hesse, Lynne

Interviewee: Lynne Hesse
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview:
Extent: 2 compact discs

Interviewer: Mary Riddle
Date of Interview: February 2, 2012
Extent: 1:40:51
Transcript and audio

Biography:
Lynn Hesse is a former policewoman of Dekalb County, Georgia, as well as a playwright, dancer, and short story author. Born in 1951 in Chanute, Kansas, she moved with her parents to the Buckhead area of Atlanta when she was a pre-teenager. After reading The Feminist Mystique by Betty Friedan at the approximate age of 15, she self-identified as a feminist. Hesse graduated through Clayton County Academy and went to work for Georgia State University as a police officer (post-certified) in circa 1977, and subsequently became a DeKalb County police officer, rising through the ranks of Master Officer and Field Training Officer to Sergeant. During her tenure as a Dekalb County Police Officer, she was denied her application for promotional testing and her compensation for arrests was diverted to other male officers. She and several other female officers were equally discriminated against. When a class action suit could not be organized, policewoman Marsha Cofield filed an individual law suit, in which Lynne Hesse was actively involved. Cofield won her case. Following her law enforcement career, Hesse has focused on her artistic pursuits which include dance and writing. In 1996, she was graduated (cum laude) in Dance from Georgia State University. She has created an "oral history performed in dance," and play she wrote, based on her own short story, was staged at Emory's Schwartz Center.

Abstract, February 2, 2012:
Hesse begins the interview by discussing the impact of Marsha Cofield's lawsuit, for which Hesse and other DeKalb County police officers fundraised. She discusses the difficulty that she had getting promoted because of her gender, and she goes into detail about various instances of being undermined and challenged by her superiors on the job. Hesse discusses several areas of police work in depth, including the mobile crisis unit and her management of it, and police responses to domestic violence calls. She talks about the murder of DeKalb County sheriff-elect Derwin Brown, and discusses the deleterious effects that working as a police officer often has on a person's mental health. Hesse describes the artistic pursuits in which she has engaged since leaving the police force, including dance and writing.

 

 

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