Houston: Pistol-Packin' Mama

Pistol-Packin' Mama

When rookie cop Elizabeth Watson joined the Houston police department 17 years ago, she was handed a dress pattern and told to sew her own uniform. Last week she was sworn in as the city's police chief, the first woman in the U.S. to head a big-city force: 3,947 officers, 90.8% of them male.

Watson, 40, has served with distinction in virtually every division, from the SWAT team to auto theft to homicide. In one instance she performed with such diligence that she was nicknamed "By-the-Book Betsy." She is taking over a force plagued by morale problems. As a result of...

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