History of Policing in the U.S

History of Policing in the U.S

The video shades light into community policing in the United States. As we strive to understand challenges in community policing it is important to understand the past. The law enforcer have faced have find difficulty in enforcing law and order especially with growing democracy and awareness (History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One). Every citizen would wish for a professional policeman who will attend to their plights. A rogue police would endanger the life and rights of common civilians. The founding fathers envisaged a Constitution with more stringent protect of liberties. Thus, one may ask what the role of the police is in modern democracy, second, what are the communities rights and responsibilities in promoting public safety or what kind of police suits the post 911 word. Then we have to decide whether we want a friendly or a Robocop police (History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One).

The first settlers in America did not have paid police officers but rather policed themselves. This was achived through shunning, casting and reprimanding those who violated community rules. Shunning was important as it ensured that people abide by the rules and protected communal values. For instance, puritans enforced their rules through public humiliation and punishment, on the other hand cohesive communities decided as a group on what to do with such individuals (History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One). Early in the 1720s New York was administered by community policing majorly because it was a small community of 7000 people. The people volunteered to be police officers and even journalists. The town criers would keep watch of the town and alert the community on external threats or arrival of British troops thus the midnight ride of Paul Revere. As opposed seeking judicial reliefs, men believed it was honorable to settle scores privately.

As population increased people started to move away from informal mechanism such as volunteers and shifted towards formal criminal justice system, paid police officers and prosecutors. Westward expansion had its own challenges. Eastern cities had police department and chiefs chosen by Mayor, the west had sheriffs chosen by the people and would convince the people to join in case of a problem. The sheriff gave people police power to arrest and use deadly force. Corporations turned to private security. One such firm is Pinkerton security that helped companies track down criminals (History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One). The sheriff’s were tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that that people used guns appropriately, moreover, visitors were required to leave their guns with the sheriff. The Dime novels told morality tales of the old West. Unsurprisingly, the modern media has continued with this practice.

The justice system in the American south was comprised by slave trade which placed the number of slaves at 4 million in the 1860 census. The institution used police to harass and interfere with the rights of the slaves, enforce misguide laws and policies. This has continued even to the modern day. The civil war and its aftermath spurred the growth of the paid police nationwide. The civil war wrecked the state and the federal government has tried to rectify slavery policies (History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One). By allowing slaves to vote and introducing majority votes resulted to a backlash among the southern whites leading to vigilantism such as the Ku Klux Clan in 1866. The Jim Crow laws further segregated the blacks which were enforced by the sheriffs. The former slaves were exposed to inhuman treatment such as lynching in presence of police officers. From the foregoing, the police must strive to protect and respect the rights of all people.

In conclusion, policing in the US has had several growth steps towards its stability despite the challenges, and the level it is now. Right from voluntary policing by communal members to formal criminal justice system, paid police officers and prosecutors, which actually is replica of the present day policing, policing remains a challenge in the US especially with race being at the center stage of this key practice that is beneficial to the society. Therefore there is need to put measures in place to enhance effective policing aimed at solving the plight of the citizens rather than increasing the plight of citizens.


Work cited

Bonnie, Bucqueroux. (2007, March 9). History of Policing in the U.S. – Part One. (Video File). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vgh-r_pPxQ