Constable May Walker
A Life of Leadership and Courage
Constable May Walker remains unchanged since her days as a police officer patrolling the streets of Houston. Walker continues to open doors for others through her leadership and courage. She was sworn-in January 2, 2005, as the first female Constable of Harris County. On March 4, 2008, Walker was re-elected to a serve a second term in office.
For 24 years, Walker was a member of the Houston Police Department (HPD). As a young rookie, she understood that membership in this male only club came with a price. However, Walker would not sit still for the “business as usual” mentality in HPD. She confronted, challenged, and filed various lawsuits in support of minorities questioning the hiring and promotional practices of the department.
In the 1970’s, Walker, tired of second-class treatment, filed her first lawsuit after being forced to ride with a male officer who clearly had disdain for African Americans and was not at all a defender of female officers. The lawsuit asked for remedies allowing female officers the right to ride alone in squad cars and for the ability to choose their own partners. Additionally, she fought for the establishment of a female locker room, as well as, a separate entrance for female officers.
As her career progressed, Walker’s knowledge of the legal system also grew. She became an integral part of a class action lawsuit filed in 1974 on behalf of minorities in HPD that also included Houston Fire Department (HFD) minority employees. The lawsuit had two components: the first section focused on the department’s hiring practices and the second part exposed the disparities found in the department’s promotional system and in the testing material that was being used to decide which officers were qualified for advancement to a higher rank.
The first section of the class action lawsuit was finally settled in the 1980’s; however, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the second part would receive any consideration. Soon after taking office and hearing of the unsettled case, Mayor Bob Lanier pushed for a resolution of the matter. The United States Civil Rights Division proved invaluable in bringing legal representation to this court case. Finally, after more than two decades, a ruling was handed down in favor of minorities in HPD. Walker’s persistence in changing an antiquated system and her insistence in seeking a legal solution for change has made HPD a better place.
Today, many African Americans, Hispanics, and female officers in both departments are enjoying the fruit of her labor. Constable Walker has faced many challenges during her career; however, just when some thought she was down for the count, she was only getting a second wind.
Highlights of Constable May Walker’s career:
- First woman ever to be elected as a Harris County Constable. She won with over 82 percent of the votes.
- During 24 years of service as a Houston Police Department Officer Constable Walker became the first female Patrol Officer.
- Author of “The History of the Black Police Officer in the Houston Police Department 1888-1988” (currently cataloged in use in Houston Public libraries, Houston Independent - School District high school libraries and The Library of Congress).
- Former Executive Assistant to Mayor Lee P. Brown
- East Texas Justices of the Peace and Constables Association, lifetime member
- 100 Club of Houston, lifetime member
- Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, lifetime member
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, lifetime member
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- National Constables Association
- National Black Police Association
- Former President of African American Police Officers Association
- Founder, Women in Policing Conference
- Graduate of Texas Southern University
- Graduate of Sam Houston State University Law Enforcement Management Institute
- Board member of St. Mary’s Parish Council
- Former Board member of Houston Area Women’s Center
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., lifetime member
- Phillip Randolph Institute, lifetime member
- Co-founder, Adopt A Black Child