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History of Policing in the United States

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Epic Beard Man, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

    Nov 12, 2013
    I don't think people know especially those that support the police that the history behind policing in the United States can be traced back to slave patrols. According to a research article "The History of Policing in the United States," the formation of policing in the United States was modeled after the formation of policing in England. The article further adds:

    "The watch system was composed of community volunteers whose primary duty was to warn of impending danger. Boston created a night watch in 1636, New York in 1658 and Philadelphia in 1700. The night watch was not a particularly effective crime control device. Watchmen often slept or drank on duty. While the watch was theoretically voluntary, many "volunteers" were simply attempting to evade military service, were conscript forced into service by their town, or were performing watch duties as a form of punishment. Philadelphia created the first day watch in 1833 and New York instituted a day watch in 1844 as a supplement to its new municipal police force (Gaines, Kappeler, and Vaughn 1999)."

    After the American Revolution these informal modalities continued until the 1830's when policing augmented to being centralized municipal police departments. However, the southern states had a different form of policing as the article states:

    "In the Southern states the development of American policing followed a different path. The genesis of the modern police organization in the South is the "Slave Patrol" (Platt 1982). The first formal slave patrol was created in the Carolina colonies in 1704 (Reichel 1992). Slave patrols had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing "Jim Crow" segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system."

    What's interesting about this article is it does discuss the changing of police function and duties post civil war as cities grew and as politicians in their respective cities held office the article highlights that police departments tend to have advocated on behalf of politicians, often leading to corruption. The article although quite lengthy does put the ideas of implicit racial bias in policing in perspective. Feel free to read and discuss

    See article here
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  2. shmogie

    shmogie Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2014
    I am very familiar with the genesis and evolution of policing in the US. It was modeled after Sir Robert Peels English police force.

    What you posted re early southern policing is unknown to me. I guess my Sociology professors failed there.

    It doesn´t surprise me though.

    I went into the job after the shambles of the 1960¨s. The desire then was to hire young college graduates not ¨ tainted¨ by the old ways.

    I worked with some guys from the 1940´s, lets just say I saw and heard things that I would never say or do.

    California back then was working with all the departments in the State to come up with POST, Peace Officers Standards and Training. This established a uniform standard for police training and behavior for the entire state. Once a new officer completed Academy training and was post certified, there is continuous POST certified training and re certification, of course the violation of these standards, including behavior issues is a serious thing, Individual Departments develop policies beyond POST, but they cannot violate any of the standards. The days of ¨breaking in "a new officer, working with an experienced officer for a couple of months as the sole basic training are gone.

    The POST system has been adopted by many states, perhaps all of them.

    To the South. I have had little experience with those officers, other than a few phone conversations with a New Orleans detective about a cold Murder case. I also tried to talk to a couple of NO cops when I visited there, but they were Cajuns, and I truly could not understand them other than a word here and there.

    I would think that any Southern Departments under a state POST system should not be considered linked in any way to the ugly past and slave patrols.

    I think they have proven that the link is broken.

    Thatś my opinion, I could be wrong.
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