Those highly publicized complaints by several police women about sexual harassment on the job were apparently "mostly talk," according to senior policewomen on the D.C. forece as well as police officials who investigated the charges.
These and other practical daily concerns that once troubled D.C. police-women have been resolved, or soon will be, the women said.
"Now we can move on to the real meat; we can talk about changing basic attitudes," said Sgt. Ernestine G. Johnson, the woman with the longest experience on the force - 23 years, "and that doesn't happen overnight. It's not unique to police work. Now we're fighting for what all women are fighting for."
Johnson and Lt. Joyce Leland, the highest ranking policewoman on the force, are leaders of Project FILES (Females in Law Enforcement Study), which Chief Maurice Cullinane set up last year to improve the skills and opportunities of women on the force and to give them some input on decisions affecting them.
The FILES spokeswomen said separate bathrooms and locker rooms have been provided in all precinct stations and that adjustments in the cap stations and that adjustments in the cap styles and uniforms are being worked out.
The women asked for caps that are warmer and stay on better, though they have not agreed on the details, Johnson said. Their man-tailored uniforms are gradually being replaced by new ones with such female accommondations as darts in the butline, narrower shoulders and more hip room.
The women are organizing themselves, and in addition, Chief Cullinane opened a full-time position on the payroll for a women's coordinator. Selected for the post at a recent FILES meeting was Gayle Antoinette Hurding Fisher, 25, a five-year veteran of the force who works in the police dispatchers' office.
Johnson and Leland both shrugged at mention of the sensational charges made in recent years by some police-women that they had been subjected to sexual harassment on the job by male police officers or officials.
They said they had found no evidence to contradict reports that the scandal had been "just a last ditch effort to save their jobs by female officers who were about to be terminated."
In off-the-record seminars last spring, at which policewomen were urged to air their complaints. Leland said, "Everybody seemed to feel that his way no more a problem in the police department than anywhere else. Most of the women said they've known how to handle men since they were little girls, how to turn them on, or turn them off."
According to Assistant Chief Theodore R. Zanders, the department's Internal Affairs Division conducted a five-month investigation of claims by one former policewoman that she was coerced or intimidated into having sex with some 17 police officers or officials while on duty or on police property.
"In no case did we find enough evidence to bring charges," Zanders said. "We don't look at officers' private lives, unless their activities affect the department."
Leland said policewomen are trying to change some of their own ingrained attitudes, as well as those of some men. "One female officer told us it took her two years to learn to give a guy a ticket and not cry if he gave her any flack. She said she had been taught to be submissive and it was hard to change."
Because the D.C. Police Department is in the "forefront," Johnson said, "we may have to back up and do some things over. But since we're the first, we can't go to the library and look up how it's done."
She and leland said they and others had been asked to provide written statements about the experience of District policewomen to groups in other cities where resistance to female police officers is still virorous.
They praised Chief Cullinance for his support and said they wished certain "middle level" officials shared his belief that "women can do the job."