BRIEF GUIDE TO POLICE HISTORY
"History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided" (Konrad Adenauer)
ANCIENT ERA (3000 B.C. - 400 A.D.)
In the beginning, there was kin policing, with its penchant for blood feuding and traditions of tribal justice. Many pre-civilized villages or communities are believed to have had a rudimentary form of law enforcement (morals enforcement) derived from the power and authority of kinship systems, rule by elders, or perhaps some form of totemism or naturism. Under kin policing, the family of the offended individual was expected to assume responsibility for justice by capturing, branding, or mutilating the offender. To be sure, there were also theocratic institutions (religious temples, magic rituals, grand viziers), but these were probably used as a system of appeals (sanctuary, refuge) and for purposes not associated with justice.
Since war has existed, the police function has been somewhat inseparable from the military function as ancient rulers always kept elite, select units (bodyguards) close at hand to protect them from threats and assassination attempts, and although it was more theocratic than militaristic, the argument could be made that the first known civilization (Egypt) was a police state.
In Mesopotamia, the rise of cities like Uruk, Umma, Eridu, Lagash, and Ur is widely regarded as the "birth of civilization." However, these cities were in a state of constant warfare, and in terms of looking at which residents bore the closest resemblance to police officers, the argument could be made that captured Nubian slaves were the first police force. This group was often put to work as marketplace guards, Praetorian guards, or in other mercenary-like positions. As a police force, their different color, stature, and manner of dress made them quite visible among the Mesopotamians. The idea of visibility could then be regarded as the first principle of crime control.
With the rise of the city-states came forms of criminal justice that could be considered as king's policing. It's conventional to note that things like the Code of Hammurabi marked the first known system of criminal law as well as the start of other practices. The Hebrews developed the Mosaic Law and a rudimentary adversarial system. The Greeks experimented with highway patrol and jury trials (Athens) as well as secret police and mercenary systems (Sparta). Across Africa, trials were being conducted while sitting down (three-legged stools of justice). Violators were brought before thrones of justice in the name of the crown, and to keep the peace meant, for the most part, keeping the king's peace of mind. Greek philosophy (Aristotle, Plato) was largely responsible for popularizing the majesty of justice by associating good law and order with virtue.
It's widely recognized that the first organized police force were the Roman vigiles, the first group of nonmilitary and nonmercenary police. They were created by Gaius Octavius, the grand nephew of Julius Caesar, around 27 B.C. After his uncle was assassinated, little Octavius swore revenge and rose to power with a desire to reform Roman society. Once he became ruler, he took the name Augustus Caesar, or more simply Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Let's take a close look at the steps involved in establishment of the world's first organized police force:
the first thing Augustus did was create a special unit, called the Praetorian Guard, to protect him from assassination. 9000 men were selected and divided into 9 cohorts of 1000 each. 3 of these cohorts operated as undercover operatives housed among the civilian residents. The Praetorian Guard eventually became involved in assassination plots themselves, and were disbanded or reabsorbed by the military.
the second thing Augustus did was create a daytime city fire brigade of 600 slaves and spread them among 14 separate precincts. The slaves proved inadequate and were disbanded, but the prefect (precinct) system proved workable.
the slave fire brigade was replaced by urban cohorts, headed by a prefect of the urban cohorts. These were a less select military unit of men who weren't good enough to get into the Praetorian Guard. They were several thousand of them. They were primarily responsible for fire safety during daytime hours, and they were fairly inadequate at it.
the urban cohorts were supplemented by nighttime cohorts, and there were several thousand of them, recruited and selected from among freedmen only. They were known as the vigiles (watchmen) of Rome, and were empowered not only to fight fires but to arrest law breakers. The prefect of the vigiles eventually became a powerful man, passing judgment on most lawbreakers, except for serious lawbreakers who had to be turned over to the prefect of the urban cohorts. The vigiles were armed with clubs as well as short swords. They eventually took over the duties of the urban cohorts.
MIDDLE AGES (400 A.D. - 1600 A.D.)
The middle ages either had no system of law enforcement or one of two systems, depending upon what part of the world you were in. Where law enforcement existed, it was most likely a variety of the watch system -- a system premised on the importance of voluntarily patrolling the streets and guarding cities from sunset to sunrise ("2 A.M. and all's well"). The predominant function of policing became class control (keeping watch on vagrants, vagabonds, immigrants, gypsies, tramps, thieves, and outsiders in general). Despite some innovations during this time period (the Magna Carta of 1215 being a notable example), most of this era was characterized by lawlessness and corruption. By the 1500s, there was no country in the world with more robbers, thieves, and prostitutes than England. Other countries, too, experienced lawlessness to such a degree that citizen groups, known as vigilantes, sprang up to combat crime.
|The gendarme system was created by
Charlemagne and is associated with centralized policing found in French speaking and
Romantic language countries. The closest word in English to "gendarme" is
"marshal" although "inspector" might be a close second.
All gendarmes are considered agents of the crown, and can travel anywhere to bring anyone to justice. Gendarmes charge fees based on performance. Gendarmes were feared and respected professionals.
|The pledge system was created by
Alfred the Great (England) and is associated with decentralized policing by constables or
deputies. The comes from the word frankpledge, a Norman
version of the old Saxon tithing or hue and cry system.
Each citizen is pledged to perform some kind of police work unless excused by a "shire-reeve" who appoints "constables" from among the watchmen. Constables were beloved amateurs.
Prior to 1066 (the Norman Invasion), the little villages of England operated under mutual assistance pacts known as the tithing system. All men over the age of 12 were required to be in a tithing, which was responsible for the behavior of its membership. If the tithing failed to apprehend an errant member, the entire tithing was required to pay restitution to any injured party. The chief tithingman was responsible for raising the hue and cry, or call to arms, whenever someone needed to be apprehended.
Under the frankpledge system (1066-1300), ten tithings were organized into a "hundred," supervised by a constable whom the local nobility appointed. The primary duty of the constable was to quartermaster the equipment of the hundred and raise forces quickly. Ten hundreds were further organized into a "shire", supervised by a "shire-reeve". Shire-reeves were considered the local representatives of Norman royalty, and also had judicial powers along with judges who traveled the realm to hear cases and also correctional powers along with town bailiffs. Over time, the position of constable also came to represent the power of the crown, but it was a position that mixed Norman authority with Saxon tradition. When the English countryside was eventually divided up into parishes with aldermans and wards, it was the constables who emerged as the most important parish officials because the shire-reeves were mostly brutal, corrupt, and run out of town.
An understanding of the Statute of Winchester of 1285 perhaps best summarizes the state of affairs. Among other things, this law did the following:
it required every able-bodied man to possess a weapon (assize of arms)
it made everyone in the countryside accountable in assisting with apprehension (hue and cry system)
it established a watch and ward night patrol to augment the daytime constables (watch system)
it formalized the parish constable system (frankpledge system)
COLONIAL ERA (1600 A.D. - 1800 A.D.)
For the most part (some would say wholesale), the U.S. adopted the English version of the watch system, which eventually became an unorganized American watch system. Shire-reeves became sheriffs, towns had constables who organized groups of watchmen who in turn helped organize citizen volunteers, and mayors usually had a high constable or marshal as their right-hand man. It is important to note that primarily because of adoption of the English system, the U.S. system is characterized by: (1) limited authority (legitimacy problems); (2) decentralization (local control and variation); and (3) fragmentation (one hand doesn't know what the other is doing).
The irony is that England toward the end of this period was moving to abandon its watch system since more efficient institutions were coming into existence; like the Bow St. Runners in 1750 (the first detectives) and the Bobbies in 1829 (named after Sir Robert Peel, who were also called Peelers - "I spy blue, I spy black, I spy a peeler in a shiny hat" - the first professional police force in the world). Peelian reforms, as they would eventually be called, became the world standard, and included such things as discipline, appearance, recruitment, and visibility (omnipresence).
The American watch system primarily operated on the basis of hue and cry, which resulted in rather silent and unseen policing. Boston's night watch, formed in 1631, was the first of this kind and consisted of 6 watchman, 1 constable, and hundreds of volunteers. Professionals were paid but unpaid volunteers did most of the work. New York City (then New Amsterdam) in 1652 followed suit with a rattle watch, where patrolmen communicated with one another by shaking little wooden rattles (10-codes). NYC also adopted the Roman precinct system. Volunteers mostly made up the slave patrols that roamed the South. The Carolina colony's slave patrol of 1704 was the model for this, establishing the concept of knowing every square inch for 15 square miles -- the police beat. American watchman were often so dull they were called leather heads, and sometimes minor offenders were sentenced to police work as punishment.
SPOILS ERA (1800 A.D. - 1900 A.D.)
The 19th Century required American police to adapt to large-scale social changes. It's called the spoils era ("to the victor go the spoils") because by the end of this Century, municipal police were firmly in the hands of big-city political machines. In fact, the history of the union workers right to strike is caught up with the history of the well-known police "paddy wagon" to round up the oft-intoxicated Irish factory workers on picket lines.
Starting around 1835 and continuing until the 1890s, a series of industrial and race riots began sweeping across America, mostly involving Irish and Native Americans. Cities responded by assigning their police forces the riot control function, but they soon discovered that a volunteer, night-oriented watch system was inadequate. Day watches were likewise ineffective. Full-time, salaried police officers were needed. 1845 in New York City is the generally accepted date and place for the start of paid, professional policing in America. They were called Coppers, after the copper stars they wore as badges on their Peelian uniforms. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they were available to control riots, and were trained to think of themselves as better than the working class they were recruited from. They were armed with guns (like most citizens at the time) even when policy or public opinion prohibited it. Other cities followed and expanded on the New York model: Philadelphia with the use of wanted posters and a Rogues Gallery (mug shots); Boston with the use of informants, lineups, and detectives; Chicago and Detroit with rapid response via horse patrol or horse-drawn "flying squads." Rapid response caught on with most Americans, and soon municipal police came to be known for it. By 1911, all were motorized and exemplified the service function, or in Egon Bittner's words, fulfilling the need for "something ought not to be happening and something ought to be done about it now." The service function fit well with a spoils system, for obvious reasons.
This era also saw the beginning of state police agencies. Although the Texas Rangers (founded 1845) are said to be the first state police organization, they became the stuff of legend only because of the atrocities they committed, like wiping out Commanche tribes or slaughtering thousands of Mexicans. Originally starting out as Rangers of the King, a group of henchmen for cattle baron, Richard King, the Texas Rangers personified the Western motto, "shoot first, ask questions later." It's widely accepted that the first professional state police agency was the Pennsylvania Constabulary who were originally formed to assist mine owners in breaking coal strikes. The Massachusetts State Police were also an early group, and Western states other than Texas also had Rangers.
This era also saw the beginning of federal police agencies which were prompted in part by the California Gold Rush of 1848. Some of the first ones were the Postal Inspectors, IRS, Border Patrol, Secret Service, and what would later become the FBI shortly after the turn of the century. The model for federal investigators was Allan Pinkerton, a barrelmaker who founded Pinkerton's Private Security Agency in 1855. Pinkerton's Agency busted strikes, secured the railroads, ended horse theft (via photography), provided military intelligence, and protected presidents. Pinkerton offices, with signs displaying an eye and the motto "We Never Sleep" were in almost every American city during the 1800s along with the presence of other private security firms, like the Holmes burglar alarm company and the Brinks and Wells Fargo armored truck delivery services.
PROGRESSIVE ERA (1900 A.D. - 1920 A.D.)
The first couple of decades in the 20th Century saw a number of innovations, most notably the shift in policing from brawn to brain, and the end of miscellaneous duties like dog catching, inspecting, and licensing. The spoils system was gradually replaced by a civil service system with the first anti-corruption measure, the Pendleton Act, which focused on eliminating nepotism (the hiring of relatives) while increasing job security (for others). Originally passed in 1883, it wasn't enforced until 1900, and generally marks the end of spoils.
Professionalism took place at the top with formation of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in 1902. It's first president, Richard Sylvester, chief of the Washington D.C. P.D., was widely regarded as the father of police professionalism. He advocated a citizen-soldier model, and was responsible for development of the many paramilitary aspects of policing. August Vollmer, chief of the Berkeley P.D., would become the patriarch of police professionalism by 1918. He advocated a scientific crime fighter model, and was responsible for introducing America to crime labs, fingerprint repositories, and uniform crime reporting. Across America, bigger police stations were being built as job titles changed (from town marshal to chief of police, commissioner if elected, superintendent if appointed).
Professionalism took place at the bottom with police unions. Technically, police unions don't exist as there are only benevolent associations that function as if they were unions. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) were created in 1915, and were soon followed by American Federation of State County Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Teamsters, and the umbrella group, International Conference of Police Associations (ICPA). Police unions are unique (some would say non-union) because they cannot strike. Collective bargaining arrangements are much more common, with municipal police officers protected by them in 72% of departments (46% in sheriffs' offices). The actual percentage of cases where an association actively represents a police officer as a union official is 36% (11% in sheriff's offices).
Citizen groups became involved in police reform. One group that served as a model for the rest of the nation was the Chicago Crime Commission. Not an investigative commission, but a civilian oversight or review board, groups such as this helped bring intellectual ideas about the causes of crime to policing. For the first time, policewomen were given a chance to do real police work, not just work as juvenile matrons or undercover decoys. Interest developed in the idea of higher education being important for police officers as well as the idea of enforcing the law in neutral fashion (the neutral function - to serve and protect).
GANGSTER ERA (1920 A.D. - 1950 A.D.)
This era started out with the Volstead Act (more commonly called the 18th Amendment or Prohibition) of 1919. A decade followed of trying to enforce an unenforceable law, and then that decade was followed by one of widespread unemployment (the Great Depression). Both events produced "big-time" gangsters, such as Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, who became heroes to the American people. It was inevitable that crime fighting would become the main function of policing in this era as police struggled hard to become as effective as the criminals seemed to be at becoming organized.
Prohibition changed everything. The Volstead Act placed police officers in an adversarial role for the first time. Previously, they allowed public opinion to influence much of law enforcement policy, but now, they found themselves in the forefront of something called - vice control. The public had no intention of giving up alcohol, and the police had to resort to brute force and dirty tricks. To make matters worse, every time the police seemed to be successful at enforcing the alcohol ban, the power of organized crime increased. A lot of petty criminals (bootleggers) became organized criminals (gangsters) during Prohibition. Police had their hands full. A whole bunch of new crimes were emerging: joyriding, drive-by shooting, ransom kidnapping (Lindbergh baby), daylight bank robberies.
There was a need for leaders who could restore a perception of police as effective crime fighters. Two personalities emerged: J. Edgar Hoover and Elliot Ness. Hoover rose from the ranks of the FBI (the G-men) to become its Director (the Boss) from 1924 to 1964. In 1929, Elliot Ness, who headed the Prohibition Bureau (later the ATF) also made a name for himself and his T-men. Both men were masters of public relations, and the image they instilled would keep organized criminals wondering who was gonna get 'em - the G-men or the T-men. Hoover denied the existence of organized crime on definitional grounds, and concentrated on depression-era folk heroes (and political subversives). He personally arrested the last of the Ma Barker gang in 1959. Both Hoover and Ness regularly used wiretapping, spy techniques, and the latest technology to ply their trade. They believed in their agents being above reproach (untouchable), and one of Hoover's most important contributions turned out to be the FBI National Academy which became a citadel of expertise in law enforcement.
Behind the scenes, there were other, perhaps more significant, contributors to police effectiveness - people who were not particularly good image makers, but simply innovative municipal police chiefs. They started movements, established legacies, and made real reforms. They included: August Vollmer (Chief - Berkeley); O.W. Wilson (Chief - Wichita & Chicago); William Parker (Chief - Los Angeles), and William Wiltberger (Director of San Jose State University's Police School, pictured below). Vollmer founded the field of American criminology in 1941 (see History of American Society of Criminology); Wilson went on to become a Dean of Criminology at Berkeley; Wiltberger founded an association known as the National Association of College Police School Administrators; and Parker went on to become a consultant for the TV show Dragnet which he believed accurately portrayed his ideal for policing - an impersonal, "Just the Facts, Ma'am" approach to professionalism. Let's look at others of these historical figures in some detail.
Vollmer was the police chief for Berkeley, California from 1905 to 1932. and professor of police administration at the University of California Berkeley from 1932 to 1937. He is perhaps best known as the founder of the "college cop" movement and the author of the Wickersham Commission Report of 1931. If Richard Sylvester is to be regarded as the "father of police professionalism," Vollmer is to be regarded as no less than the "patriarch of police professionalism." He successfully implemented a vision of police as scientific crime fighters, and introduced America to such things as stop lights, police car radios, crime laboratories, and lie detectors, just to name a few of his many contributions.
Let's zero in on the "college cop" movement Vollmer started. The idea was that every police officer should have at least a bachelor's degree. At first, it was a short-lived movement, lasting from about 1921 to 1943, cut short by the demands of returning World War II veterans who didn't have college degrees and wanted hiring preferences, regardless of other qualifications. However, in the early 1950s, one could say a "second college cop" movement occurred with a push for master's degrees, chronicled in the issues those years with published theses in the Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science and the spread of justice programs in academe by "V-men" Berkeley grads across states like Michigan (4), New Jersey (3), Washington (3), Pennsylvania (2), Florida (2), Indiana (2), Illinois (2), Kentucky (2), New York (2), Arizona, District of Columbia, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, and China. One could even say there was a "third Ph.D. college cop" movement started in the early 1990s. Back in 1941, however, Vollmer was really more interested in "high IQ" since you have to remember that many police jobs across the country back then were regularly filled by people who were rather dull and feebleminded (called leatherheads). For example, on the IQ tests available at the time, policemen in the city of Detroit scored an average of 55 while Vollmer's force scored an average of 147. Vollmer supported the policewoman movement precisely because he believed women had higher IQs than men. He also hired the first black person to work in law enforcement. He promoted his people often and equally.
Colleges and universities back then didn't offer the kind of curriculum Vollmer thought "college cops" needed. What passed for criminology, for example, was either sociology or Lombrosian ideas about atavism. Vollmer had established a police training academy on the campus of UC-Berkeley, and it was widely renowned for courses in bicycling, photography, law, biology, and chemistry. Vollmer and law professor Alexander Marsden Kidd also established a summer session program in criminology (1916-1931), and in 1928 proposed the establishment of a school of criminology, a proposal that led in 1931 to criminology courses in the regular school year sessions at the University of California at Berkeley, the development of a major in criminology in 1933, a Bureau of Criminology in the Department of Political Science in 1939, a Master's program in Criminology in 1947, and the establishment of the nation's first and only formally designated university "School of Criminology" in 1950. It was only natural, then, for UC-Berkeley to house the first department of criminology in the nation, and Vollmer helped create it, eventually becoming Dean of the School, supervising a curriculum based on public speaking, sociology, psychology, abnormal psychology, and statistics.
At various speeches during IACP meetings, Vollmer advocated a number of reforms, most related to the need for standardized training or modernization of law enforcement. One of the reforms he proposed was the establishment of a Uniform Crime Reporting system (UCR). After all, part of the success Berkeley PD enjoyed in reducing the crime rate to zero (some say it was displaced) was due to its exceptional record-keeping system (ID and MO files). J. Edgar Hoover, of course, ended up getting the credit for the idea of a national crime reporting system (UCR).
The Wickersham Report was written almost entirely by Vollmer. It represented the first set of baseline standards for comparison and reform of police departments. Most of these eventually became CALEA standards for accreditation, but the Report contained a number of other recommendations needed and put into effect, such as:
Personnel standards -- removal of employees, even the chief, "for cause"
Communications & records -- modern systems based on Berkeley model
Salary & benefits schedule -- fair schedules of pay and promotion by grade
Separate units -- for crimes involving juveniles and vice
State information bureaus -- crime data collection and analysis centers
Training academies -- creation of regional ones, such as the Northwestern Traffic Institute, Southern Police Institute, Wichita, San Jose, Michigan State
ORLANDO (O.W.) WILSON
Orlando Wilson used to work for Vollmer in the Berkeley PD (Vollmer called him his smartest college cop) and became the police chief for Wichita from 1928 to 1939 and Chicago from 1960 to 1971 (the last few years being semi-retired). The years in between were spent as a postwar Civil Administrator in Europe and Dean of the School of Criminology at UC-Berkeley where he set up the well known San Jose model of criminal justice education, involving "tracks" in law enforcement, corrections, and criminalistics or criminology. He is perhaps best known as the author of the Police Code of Ethics and the definitive police science textbook, Police Administration, co-authored with Roy McLaren. The book's a masterpiece of principles, tables, and formulas. It instigated such things as roll call training, swing shifts, and patrol allocation.
Wilson's career seemed to intertwine with the quest to remove politics from law enforcement. He started off with a heavy hand in Wichita, quickly firing or demoting over 22 employees, including a group he referred to as "deadwood detectives." He initiated integrity, psychological, and IQ testing, small spans of control, semirigid chains of command (commanders to captains), divisional structures, and eventually earned a reputation as a strict disciplinarian. He also directed the training academy in Wichita, and it placed so many chiefs around the country, it became known as the West Point of law enforcement. While in Kansas, he wrote the Square Deal Code which the IACP copied (not giving him credit) and proclaimed as the Police Code of Ethics.
In Chicago, Wilson directly confronted the "Irish Style" of policing, a system of patronage where needy Irishmen got city jobs, by replacing police commissioner Tim O'Connor with himself as police superintendent. On an almost daily basis, he confronted the power of Mayor Daley and machine politics. He brought a number of blacks into law enforcement, eliminating the flat feet criteria that had been used to discriminate. He upgraded the duties of patrol officers, adding responsibility for preliminary investigations and requiring them to be computer proficient. Psychological profiling was used on his officers as well as UNSUBs, and it was Wilson who helped solve the Richard Speck case. Just when he thought he had the Chicago PD under control and could ease into retirement, the police officers (pigs) overreacted during the 1968 Democratic Convention, giving his legacy, the city, and law enforcement everywhere a reputation that would last several years.
REVOLUTIONARY ERA (1960 A.D. - 1970 A.D.)
The Sixties were a time of many movements: civil rights, student rights, Vietnam, and the counterculture. The nation experienced numerous assassinations and saw the beginning of alarming trends such as mass murder and serial murder. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty became a concern as about 100 a year seemed to become the average (along with 300 citizens a year killed by police). Despite wars on poverty and on crime, the crime rates tripled during these years. For the police, they had to deal once again with major urban rioting, and at least one Commission, The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968), blamed the police for starting the riots (by escalating routine traffic stops with their racism and abrasiveness). The police had lost whatever legitimacy they once had. Even the Supreme Court was punishing them. Mapp v. Ohio (1961) handcuffed the police with the exclusionary rule. Miranda v. Arizona (1968) required them to read criminals their rights from little cards. The death penalty was abolished from 1967 to 1977.
One of the most influential Commissions in criminal justice was the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, sometimes referred to as the President's Commission. It was formed in 1965 by President Johnson, and it issued several reports in 1967. In those days, colleges that offered criminal justice courses only had these reports to use as textbooks. These reports were known as Task Force reports because each one addressed a specific area of criminal justice. The executive summary was called The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society. The Task Force reports were extremely critical and influential. They provided a model for the overhaul of the criminal justice system, in fact, the only model, since no one had ever created one before. It was the "gun" model found in the opening pages of almost every criminal justice textbook today. The reports popularized the phrase "criminal justice system" and provided such a body of knowledge that colleges and universities soon began creating (by 1974 at least) 2-year and 4-year programs in criminal justice. Computerized police information systems (NCIC, SEARCH) were also created about this time period. Interest grew for emerging fields such as police planning or criminal justice planning, and most academic programs called Administration of Justice were designed for producing such careerists.
The following year, in 1968, Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. There's been numerous Acts since then with the words "Omnibus" (comprehensive) and "Crime Control" in them, but most people will probably know which one you mean (the big one) when you just say the Omnibus Act in criminal justice. The Act was a large infusion of money into the criminal justice system. It created the largest bureaucracy in federal government (until its demise in 1982), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), which provided over $7 billion for research, development, and evaluation of programs, 60% of the money being spent on police hardware (a criticism of LEAA). To give you some idea of the money involved, $7 billion works out to about $200,000 a year to any average sized police department who asked for it. Money was also provided for police education through a program called Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP). For police who signed up for college classes (or students majoring in criminal justice), this program provided for tuition subsidies, book purchases, and in some cases, $300 a month to spend anyway you want as long as you promised to continue or find work in the criminal justice field. It's widely acknowledged that LEEP, more than anything else, including the Task Force reports (which were the textbooks), had the effect of creating most of the academic programs (LEAA clones) in criminal justice that exist at colleges and universities today. NCJRS (even as large as it is) is but a remnant of how large the LEAA-LEEP bureaucracy was.
CURRENT ERA (1970 A.D. - PRESENT)
The Seventies started out with an interest in Police Community Relations (PCR) and other innovations, such as the short-lived Team Policing experiment (involving demilitarization, blazers instead of uniforms, and patrolmen and detectives working side by side without any difference in rank). PCR was the dominant concern, and many private think tanks were started to help police out in this regard (PERF, Police Foundation, ABF, RAND, Mott Foundation). Some of the first successful programs were Open Houses and Ride Alongs, pioneered by the St. Louis PD among others. Some departments experimented with citizen self defense training, citizen police academies, or coffee klatches (community meetings or town halls). Police soon discovered through these outreach activities the importance and meaning of their public safety function. Fighting the fear of crime was just as important as fighting crime itself.
Commissions investigating police corruption (the oldest problem in law enforcement) were also active during the Seventies. Commissions became a common sight because they could be formed by citizens and financed by private donations or community groups. The New York City PD has been the target of investigation by the largest number of commissions; so often, it almost seems like a 20-year cycle, for example:
|1894||Lexow Commission||Tammany Hall machine politics|
|1913||Curran Commission||gambling, prostitution corruption|
|1932||Seabury Commission||alcohol corruption|
|1949||Brooklyn Grand Jury||gambling payoffs|
|1972||Knapp Commission||drug corruption (Serpico)|
|1993||Mollen Commission||drug corruption (Buddy Boys)|
The Knapp Commission was influential in reminding police departments how important it was to maintain strong Internal Affairs units that did proactive integrity checks as too many departments at the time relied on reactive measures such as snitch boxes. The Knapp report also inspired some lines of research into police corruption, but in the end, saw the continued use of internal measures like snitches and Internal Review Boards. The Mollen Commission found, essentially, that the drug war was unwinnable. The temptation is too great when officers regularly make routine traffic stops, open the trunk, and find suitcases filled with millions of dollars. The Buddy Boys were a whole precinct where the officers involved were actually buying (busting) and selling drugs. In recent years, the LAPD has also been the target of investigative commissions. In 1991, the Christopher Commission was appointed to look into charges of police brutality with the involvement of 15 officers and the brutal beating of Rodney King. Its close look at racism, and especially the tapes from the computerized consoles officers communicated with during the chase led to the Commission's adoption of an anthropological approach to the study of police culture.
The current era (1980s and beyond) is identifiable with the latest reform in policing - the community policing movement. Actually, the idea of problem-oriented policing came first, a somewhat centralized approach to pinpointing problems and coming up with creative solutions. Community policing is decentralized and tries to go beyond PCR in implementing "a philosophy based on citizens and police working together in creative ways to help solve contemporary problems related to crime, fear of crime, disorder, and decay." Both are examples of the brokerage function of policing, where police are the information and implementation specialists in a network of community services and untapped resources. Community policing focuses on crime, hence it doesn't give up the crime fighting function. Community policing focuses on fear of crime, therefore it recognizes this as a separate war and takes seriously public safety and service functions. Community policing focuses on disorder, which are nonarrestable offenses, hence it returns policing to a constable-era order maintenance function. Community policing focuses on decay, which are the physical signs of disorder (broken windows), involving police in such things as graffiti removal, beautification, and quality of life concerns.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, police have been trying to integrate homeland security functions into their role in society. Much of this has involved getting as many police officers as possible screened for security clearances, but much of it also has involved grants for technology and communications interoperability.
A Brief History of the Fraternal Order of Police
History of British Metropolitan Police
History of Law Enforcement Intelligence (pdf)
History of U.S. Military Police
Important Dates in Police History
Internet Resource Links for JUS 205
New Insights into J. Edgar Hoover's Role
Other Important Dates in Police History
Role of Community Policing in Post 9/11 Era (pdf)
The Evolution of American Policing
Bayley, D. (1999). "The Development of Modern Police." Pp. 59-78 in L. Gaines & G. Cordner (eds.) Policing Perspectives: An Anthology. Los Angeles: Roxbury.
Berg, B. (1998). Law Enforcement: An Introduction to Police in Society. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Bopp. W. & D. Schultz. (1972). A Short History of American Law Enforcement. Springfield: Charles Thomas.
Bopp, W. (1977). O.W. Wilson and the Search for a Police Profession. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press.
Carte, G. & E. (1975). Police Reform in the United States: The Era of August Vollmer. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
Gaines, L., V. Kappeler & J. Vaughn. (1999). Policing in America. Cincinnati: Anderson.
Harring, S. (1983). Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865 - 1915. New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press.
Reynolds, P. (1926). The Vigiles of Imperial Rome. London: Oxford Univ. Press.
Smith, B. (1925). The State Police. NY: Macmillan.
Tonry, M. & N. Morris. (eds.) (1992). Modern Policing: Vol. 15 in Crime and Justice, A Review of Research. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Vila, B. & C. Morris. (1999). The Role of Police in American Society: A Documentary History. Westport: Greenwood Press.
Walker, S. (1977). A Critical History of Police Reform. Lexington: Lexington Books.
Walker, S. (1998). Police in America. NY: McGraw-Hill.
Last updated: 07/15/05
Syllabus for JUS 205
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