Alice Bachison was a true pioneer, blazing a trail for others to follow.
Bachison became the first woman to serve as a police officer in the Yakima Police Department and was a strong advocate for other women in the YPD.
She was born Oct. 4, 1920, in Tacoma, the daughter of George and Mary Borys. When she was 12, her family moved across the mountains to Yakima, where she graduated from Yakima High School (today’s Davis High School) in 1938. Three years later, she married Michael Bachison, and they had three daughters.
Bachison worked for the Teamsters union before going to the YPD in 1951. She started out as a corrections officer in the women’s jail, eventually moving over to the police department as a commissioned officer.
Among her duties as a police officer were participating in stakeouts, going on calls that involved women and children, and serving as an administrative assistant to the chief.
Former police Chief Pleas Green said in a 2015 interview with the Yakima Herald-Republic that in her administrative role, Bachison became a valued adviser to the department’s command staff and fully understood the intricacies of the payroll and retirement systems.
“She was as important, if not more important, than a uniformed officer at work on the street,” Green said.
When she did have to interact with suspects, Bachison did so with respect, Green recalled. He said Bachison never had a complaint filed against her.
Bachison also became an advocate for women in the department. She would lobby the City Council to hire more women on the police force, and when they were hired, she championed their causes with command staff.
At the time, police academy training was considered optional, but Bachison pushed for the department’s women to get the training, recalled Nina Vereb, a retired Yakima police captain.
Because of Bachison, Vereb said she was able to get into training programs, including the FBI National Academy, which allowed her to become the first woman in the YPD’s history to become a lieutenant and later a captain.
“I always told (Bachison) that I would not have made rank if it were not for her,” Vereb said in a 2015 interview.
While Bachison did not move up in rank herself, Vereb said it never bothered her, as she instead celebrated when Vereb and other women advanced in the department.
Bachison was also the one who would go to the home and offer comfort when a member of the department died or had a death in the family, Vereb said.
In the community, Bachison was involved in PTA, Camp Fire Girls, Soroptimist International, the American Business Women’s Association and Toastmasters. She also played a role in organizing the Yakima Valley Credit Union and served on its board for six years.
Bachison retired from the police department in 1983, but she was still a presence there, police Lt. Linda Watts recalled in a 2015 interview. Bachison would come to the station to visit her former colleagues and get to know the newer officers, offering encouragement to the women in the ranks.
“When she was at the station, if she saw someone she didn’t know, she would be the first one up to introduce herself,” Watts recalled.
Bachison died July 8, 2015, at Arbor House, and was inurned at Terrace Heights Memorial Park beside her husband, who died in 1967.