Tributes have been paid to Joan Tait, who rose to the rank of detective inspector with Derbyshire Police, following her death aged 81.
Beginning her career in West Sussex, she moved to the Derby area in the 1970s before rising to the rank of detective inspector, with spells in vice, special crime, fraud, drugs squads and a murder investigation.
After retirement she emigrated to Benidorm before returning to live in the north east of England with her husband John.
The couple spent their final years together at the Stanley Park care home in County Durham.
She was widowed in 2018 and died late last month – one of 16 residents to die after being infected with the virus.
Derbyshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann paid tribute to her, saying: “While the term trailblazer is used all too often for Joan it is absolutely correct.
“Her dedication, commitment and drive as a woman in the force really laid the foundations for generations to come.
“Joan was a woman who clearly let her ability and love of the job do the talking – and she was clearly a match for anyone, man or woman, as her record of taking on three thugs single-handedly attests.
“For myself, and I am sure every other member of the police force, Joan’s unswerving professionalism and care act as a prime example of how to conduct ourselves.
“While I never had the chance to meet her in person – I would like to put on record my personal thanks for her role in changing the service to one that has allowed me, and thousands of other women, to follow in her footsteps.
“My thoughts, as well as those of the entire policing family, are with her family, friends and loved ones at this time.”