History of policing
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History of Policing. PSCI 2481. Wyatt Earp. Ofc. Pete Malloy. A BRIEF HISTORY OF POLICING. Pre-Colonial Policing in England Colonial Policing in America Post-Revolutionary Policing The Rise of the Police Department (1790s-1840s) The Political Era

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History of Policing

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History of policing

History of Policing

PSCI 2481

Wyatt Earp

Ofc. Pete Malloy

A brief history of policing


  • Pre-Colonial Policing in England

  • Colonial Policing in America

  • Post-Revolutionary Policing

    The Rise of the Police Department (1790s-1840s)

  • The Political Era

    The “Service” Department (1840s-1920s)

  • The Reform Era

    Crime Fighting as Police Business (1930s-1970s)

  • The Modern Era

    Community-Problem Solving (1980s - ????)

Early policing in england

Early Policing in England

“Era of voluntary peacekeeping”

1285 Statute of Winchester - Citizens are required to pursue criminals under the direction of the Constable.

1361 Justices of the Peace appointed by the Crown

Watchmen introduced by King Charles II (1649-1685).

Early policing in england1

Early Policing in England

1748 - Henry Fielding – author of “Tom Jones” takes over as JP of the Bow Street Court

  • “Inquiry into the Causes of (Crime)”

  • Leads efforts to educate the public about the crime problem - Covent Garden Journal

  • Also publishes the Weekly Pursuit - a 1 page flyer (precursor of the modern “.Ten Most Wanted” List)

  • Organizes an ex-constable band called the “Bow Street Runners” - salaried group of “vigilantes” but also the first London force.

American colonial period

American Colonial Period

  • The Early Colonies: An Era of Self-policing:

    • Similar backgrounds, similar religious beliefs, little to steal, nowhere to hide, towns provided protection against the wilderness. (similar to the society found in Tristan de Cuhna)

      (Of course, the settlers were hardly the cream of European society. Many were legal and religious castoffs.)

American colonial period1

American Colonial Period

  • Era of British Rule: Two principal “police” institutions

    The Constable

    Chosen by the townspeople

    Job - Suppress violations of community religious (moral) edicts, primarily victimless crimes. Keep drunks in line. Watch for gambling and prostitution.

    The Night Watch

    A patrol of “volunteers” supervised by a Constable

    Report drunks and single women out after dark.

    Duty was avoided by paying others to take your shift. (precursor of the paid police force)

American colonial period2

American Colonial Period

  • During this period, citizens, regardless of their economic status, were responsible for the identification and pursuit of criminal offenders.

    • Once a criminal was identified, it was the citizens’ responsibility to raise the “hue and cry” and to join the posse to track down the criminal.

    • In those days, the penalties were severe so criminals had the incentive to run.

  • Detection of crime was largely a private affair. Initiatives were encouraged through rewards paid to informers.

American colonial period3

American Colonial Period

  • While night watch groups were established in the northern colonies, groups of white men organized slave patrols in the southern colonies.

  • Slave patrols were responsible for controlling, returning, and punishing runaway slaves.

  • These slave patrols are generally considered to be the first "modern" police organizations in this country.

American colonial period4

American Colonial Period

  • Policing on the western frontier varied widely.

  • Settlers originally from northern colonies created marshals and police “forces” similar to those in northern colonies.

  • Settlers from southern colonies relied on sheriffs and posses.

  • In many western settlements, however, there was no formal organized law enforcement. In these areas, groups of vigilantes were formed by volunteer citizens to combat any threat to the order of the settlements.

The first police departments

The First Police Departments

London (“The British Model”)

  • Formed in 1829 under the command of Robert Peel.

  • His officers were first called “Peelers” and later “Bobbies”, a derogatory term at first used by British citizens suspicious of this new police presence in their community.

History of policing

  • Police force of over 1000 officers with a new approach to crime fighting.

  • The MPF became a model for all British provincial police forces.

  • Policing was a political business even in “Merry Ole England”. Peel founded the Metropolitan Police Force when he was Home Secretary in Lord Liverpool’s Cabinet. The success of the Metropolitan Police of London led to Peel’s eventual rise to Prime Minister of England in 1835.

Peeler s principles the police are the public and the public are the police

Peeler’s Principles“The police are the public and the public are the police.”

  • The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

  • The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.

  • Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law.

  • Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

Peeler s principles

Peeler’s Principles

  • The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

  • Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when persuasion, advice, & warning is found to be insufficient.

Boston the american prototype

Boston – The American Prototype

  • When first initiated by the City Council in 1824, the “department”, under the supervision of the city Marshall, was charged with "the care of the streets, the care of the common sewers, and the care of the vaults, and whatever else affects the health, security, and comfort of the city."

  • In these early days, an officer on duty carried a six-foot pole, painted blue and white to protect himself, and a "police rattle" to call for assistance.

Boston police department a brief historical chronology

Boston Police DepartmentA Brief Historical Chronology

1635: First night watch established.

1788: The word "police" appeared for the fist time, designating a specific office, "Inspector of Police".

1822: The Town of Boston became the City of Boston. Increases in the population & businesses created increased demand for police patrol.

1838: Law passed permitting day patrol. City had a Day Police and a Night Watch, which operated completely independently of one another.

1854: Boston Police Department established, structured after the model developed by Sir Robert Peeler.

1858: Telegraph system completed, linking central office and police stations.

History of policing

1861: White cotton gloves worn by the officers for the first time. Thereafter, "full uniform" included the wearing of such gloves.

1872: The Great Boston Fire of November 9 and 10 which destroyed 776 buildings. The fire was discovered by a patrolman who was chasing boys on Lincoln Street.

1873: First mounted patrol established.

1903; First motor patrol wagon placed in service – a Stanley Streamer touring car operated by a chauffeur; the police officer sat on higher seat so that he could look over area’s back fences.

The new york police department

The New York Police Department

  • In 1844, the NYPD was formed by combining day and night forces into a single integrated PD, the first such arrangement in this country.

  • NYPD adopted a uniform so citizens could easily recognize officers (Blue becomes the color of the force in 1853), and a paramilitary structure like the British.

  • No training, meager salaries, limited public respect. Politics influences too much of their activities.

  • Boston and Philadelphia give its officers guns for the first time in 1854 and NY follows suit in 1857.

Where did the term cops come from


When the first NY police force began patrolling in the summer of 1845, they only had badges on their civilian clothing. The badges were 8 pointed stars with the seal of the City at the center and were made of stamped copper. The newspapers of the time referred to the new force as the "Star Police" but people seeing the shiny copper shields began to call the new force "Coppers" which was later shortened to "Cops."

Alternative theories

Alternative Theories…

  • “Copper” as slang for policeman is first found in print in 1846, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The most likely explanation is that it comes from the verb "to cop" meaning to seize, capture, or snatch, dating from just over a century earlier (1704).

  • There is also a British police term, Constable On Patrol, which may account for the term "cops" in England.

  • The French call their police “gendarmes”, which came from gens d'arme (people with weaponry) which ranked just below knight in medieval armies

Early police forces in america

Early Police Forces in America

Nashville pd 1870

Nashville PD 1870

Nashville 1890 the winter uniform

Nashville 1890The winter uniform

Chattanooga pd 1910

Chattanooga PD 1910

1919 call box

1919 Call Box

History of policing


Memphis pd 1921

Memphis PD 1921

History of policing


History of policing


Swat 1920s

SWAT 1920s

1925 motorcycle squad

1925 Motorcycle Squad

Armored chase car 1935

Armored Chase Car 1935

Radio cars 1936

Radio Cars 1936

History of policing


20 th century policing

20th Century Policing

Technology changes police operations:

  • The telegraph

  • The telephone

  • Walkie-talkies

  • Cars

  • Radio-cars (aka “Angels of Death”)

  • Radar

  • Computers

  • Computers in cars

  • Crime analysts

  • New training techniques/Police academies

  • New weaponry



  • Wickersham Commission of 1931

  • President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice 1967

  • National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals 1973

  • Criminology as a college major.

The job today

The Job Today

  • Numbers

  • Federal Structure

  • Salaries

Number of fulltime law enforcement personnel 2003

Number of Fulltime Law Enforcement Personnel (2003)

American police agencies by population served 2003

American Police Agencies by Population Served (2003)

Average salaries for police officers by city size 2005

Average Salaries for Police Officers, by City Size (2005)

Average salaries for police chiefs 2005

Average Salaries for Police Chiefs (2005)

The chiefs of big city america

The Chiefs of Big City America

The public image of police officers and police departments today

The public image of police officers and police departments today

How much confidence do you have in the ability of the police to protect you from violent crime

How much confidence do you have in the ability of the police to protect you from violent crime?

AQuiteNot None

great a lotvery at all


2000 (Aug)20%42316

1999 (Mar)29%41254

1998 (0ct)19%36378

1995 (Sep)20%30399

1993 (0ct)14%31459




Q how much respect do you have for the police in your area

Q: How much respect do you have for the police in your area?

A Hardly

great dealSomeany

2000 (Aug)60%30 9

1999 (Mar)64%29 7

1991 (Mar)60%32 7

196777%17 4

196570%22 4

Q how high would you rate the honesty ethical standards of people in these different fields

Q: How high would you rate the honesty & ethical standards of people in these different fields?

VeryHigh Ave.Low Very HighLow







CongressmenI %10%43%32%11 %

Car SalesmenI %4%32%41 %18%

How would you rate the that serve your community in accomplishing their criminal justice mission

How would you rate the ____ that serve your community in accomplishing their criminal justice mission?

Excellent Only Fair Not Sure

or Good or Poor

Police64%34% 2%

Prosecutors48%44% 9%

Judges45%48% 7%


Parole Boards22%57%21 %

Police operations

Police operations

History of policing

Impact of Timeliness in Reporting Crime

Probability of

an Arrest

Crime Reported

While In Progress33%

1 Minute Afterwards 9%

10 Minutes Afterwards 5%

History of policing

Reasons for Not Calling the Police

Private Matter Police WouldFear of

Didn’t Want Not Be EffectiveReprisal

CRIME To Bother Them

(% Not


Robbery27%45% 0%


Burglary30%63% 2%


Sex Offenses*40%50% 5%


Family65%17% 7%






* Other than Rape

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