Historical Foundations of Policing

In order to keep order in society there is a need for law enforcement. Since the beginning of time, man has created ways to protect citizens and communities. The most common way of doing that is with the police force. The police today are employed by the government and are usually very distinct from regular citizens since they wear uniforms in most cases.

There are many different types of law enforcement officers, the most common ones are “local police officers, county deputies, state highway patrol troopers, or federal agents” (The Police An Introduction 28) We have a total of approximate 870,000 law enforcement officers in the United States that we have entrusted with many responsibilities to serve and protect us. The actual structure of the police could be very confusing to a regular citizen since they have private as well as public police and we the regular citizens may not know how to make a distinction between the two. Paraphrased from The Police An Introduction 28) Early American Policing (1600- 1860): In the seventeenth century, people were still under the Middle Ages thinking. The government task was to provide economic balance protecting the people from invaders trying to take the local jobs. This way of thinking lasted until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century when people begin to realize the opportunity for wealth and growth. The government built early America by providing streets, canals and of course the railways. The Police An Introduction 36) Urban Growth and the need for police: The United States attracted many people to migrate to it because of the freedom and opportunities the land offers. This happened increasingly during the beginning of our homeland. This time in our history is marked with riots, violence and public disorder. Some of the recognized riots are “the protest over the Stamp Act of 1765, the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. ” (The Police An Introduction 37) Benjamin Franklin organized societies that were based on volunteers to keep social goals during the early eighteenth century and on.

With the same idea of keeping order in society many other societies were formed. (The Police An Introduction 37) Urban Conditions and the Rise of U. S. Urban Police Departments: The creation of police departments began due to many factors including “industrialization, immigration, and urbanization. ” (The Police An Introduction 37) With so much growth and increased I population there was the need of maintaining and keeping the order in the cities. The constables were not effective in such high populating places.

New York, Boston and Philadelphia created their uniformed police force. With the population increased and the social economical distresses in some part of the country, the need for the police grew immediately. The London police played an important role in providing the inspiration for our own forces. The New York Police Department: The police department was created in 1844. The responsibilities were very broad and it was not until later that the police became more crime prevention and order maintenance oriented. The Police An Introduction 39) During the colony times, the citizens were the main responsible for crime prevention and order. This was the constable’s characteristics jus as they were during England’s development in. In the early nineteenth century, New York had more than one hundred officials. At the beginning, the police officers did not have a uniform, they had identification and the term of office was one year at first and later rose to two in 1846, and then again rose to four in 1849. The Police An Introduction 40) In 1853, the police had many changes including a mayor, judge and recorder. After those changes been a police officer became a career. The police authorities were under local elected officials. They started carrying a weapon in the mid-1850s. In 1857, the Metropolitan Police was established and the responsibilities expanded. They became salaried between 1840 and 1870. New York and Philadelphia were the models for other cities in the U. S. The Police An Introduction 42) The Political Era (1840-1920): Many cities had to enlarge their police departments due to all the violence and public disorder that comes with population growth. This era is highlight by the association of police and political leaders and the increasing corruption. The county sheriff was the first law enforcement officer and usually did not prevent crime he would just go to existing crimes. Their duties include tax collection, law enforcement and managing public elections. The sheriff had the authority of using resources in the whole community. The Police An Introduction 42-43) Before the civil war in the South, the system relied in slave patrols, they were slaves that watched for other slaves to escape and they would track them. They slaves could be punished by their owners and the punishments were cruel. In the East and Midwest areas, the police was like England. In some towns, people took the law in their own hands or they would have a “town vigilance” to get the offenders and punished them. (The Police An Introduction 43) The Western settlement “included the organization of regional law enforcement” (The Police An Introduction 42-43).

Politics played an important role in the hiring, promotion and duties of the police forces. The police was not proactive to prevent crime; they were “pawns” for the local politicians. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, people were becoming more interested in becoming police officers since they had a high salary compared to many other professions. They had little or no training resulting on cruel and rude behavior from the actual officers and there were not radios o any of the technology our police have now a day. The Police An Introduction 45) Early Twentieth-Century Change: The changes that have happened in the policing have been a long and slow process. There were movements that helped the progress of the policing influenced by upper-middle-class Americans (called progressives) that wanted to provide help to low funds people and have an efficient government. They wanted the police to have more professional personnel and to centralized the agencies dedicated to law enforcement as well as trained the police officers and to really focus the police efforts to crime prevention.

Some of the changes that were the outcome of this era are the education of police officers, the independence from political influence, the policies created and implemented at a local department, a more efficient administration and the enforcement of the law. All this changes were a reflection of the industrialization and urbanization of the U. S. (The Police An Introduction 46) The Reform Era (1920-1970): During this era, we continue to see the very much wanted separation from the political influence. The reformers try to achieve and redefine the police goals and purpose.

The reason behind wanting the police to be free from politics was to function without corruption. The reformers wanted the police to be oriented to “crime-related matters”. (The Police An Introduction 47) As crime increased, there was a need for the administrators to also change and create some goal. They centered on controlling police personnel to make them more professional resulting in a better manage law enforcement system. The Great Depression of 1929 increased the crime rate and it is during this time that the law enforcement agencies take on a strict attitude toward crime.

By the 1950’s the police had become more professionalize than in the past and it took on a bureaucratic organization that centered on administration and power within departments. There are rules and focus of police roles and a formal organization structure is born. (The Police An Introduction 51-52) The use of technology and science are a great asset introduced in this era. The patrols become motorized; there is the introduction of the telephone, which is a tool that improved the time in all aspects of communications including reporting crime.

The evidence to a criminal case becomes tangible, there are new ways of solving crimes and the police ever since have taken full advantage of new technology to their benefit. There is an introduction of civil service for the promotion and selection of the officers. No longer was the political influence the way to obtain a promotion; the police needed to show the community they were truly committed to the public service. With all the steps mentioned above the police become well known and are completely separated from politicians resulting in a better administration and authority within the same department. The Police An Introduction 52-53) The Emergence of The Professional Police Officer: It took some time to get the police departments and the officers to be professionalize and it is an ongoing matter. In 1908, August Vollmer, a police chief in California, established the first police training school among other things. The mechanized patrol systems and the addition of the two-way radios improved communications between officers. He also helped established The School of Criminology in California. The Police An Introduction 53-54) The civil problems that our country encounter during the 60’s with the segregations of African Americans, marked a time were the police department added communities programs to outreach and get a better image with the citizens of the communities. Another positive outcome of the reform was the “development and application of standard operating procedures” (The Police An Introduction 55) to make consistency part of the organizations when it comes to training and other procedures.

Another way of becoming more professional is to get accreditation to get more funds from the government and get discount in insurance for the departments as well as improving their efficiency. The Community Policing Era (1970-Present): After the civil riots we had in the 1960’s, the police realized they were not capable of dealing with such riots in an effective way. The governments spend tons of money on doing research and improving our criminal systems. From this research, the police departments were able to see their faults and come up with new ideas on how to better the accomplishment of a quality policing.

The departments implemented the need for higher education and the government gives funding for the officers to better themselves. There is a movement in the 70’s to focus on a community oriented police rather than crime fighting. The police centered on improving the communities relationship and creates new programs to do so. Even now, the police departments are always researching the cause behind the crimes and behavioral patters of people to better understand crime and handle it in a problem-solving manner. Works Cited Lyman, Michael D. “The Police An introduction”. Third edition. New Jersey, 2006.

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