Police history




Thepolicing organization has evolved from the traditional and informalmethod of policing to the contemporary policing strategies. Therehave been various transformations, over the years, that have had aparamount impact on the current American police. The essay delvesinto the history of police and addresses the implications of Englishpolicing on the American criminal law enforcement system. It furtherelucidates on the contemporary policing eras and their distinctfeatures. Finally, the essay seeks to establish the existingrelationship between the federal and state governments and thepolicing organizations in the United States.


Historyand background

Thehistory of police can be dated back in the early 1800s when averageAmerican officer nothing like the current police. They received noformal training, did patrols on foot, and had no radios or weapon.Later in the 1950s, several developments in the policing organizationwere made including the implementation of policy and proceduremanual, a brief academic training, among others[ CITATION Rep13 l 1033 ].Often police officers were males, though females joined police laterin the late 1960s. The American policing emanated from the Englishcriminal and justice system, brought by the colonists.

Impactof English policing on American law enforcement systems

TheEnglish colonist brought the modern American policing system as partof their cultural heritage. The entire package included the Englishcommon law, criminal and justice systems, and law enforcementagencies, among others. The English policing culture had asignificant impact on the American policing. One of the paramountfeatures includes the culture of limited police authority. TheAmerican constitution places a high priority on the individual rightsthrough the Bill of Rights. Secondly, the English justice andcriminal system have controlled and centralized law enforcementagencies[ CITATION Wil131 l 1033 ].Finally, the English Heritage comprises of a fragmented anddecentralized law enforcement system.

ModernAmerican policing eras

Thepolitical era

Thepolitical era was the period between the 1830s and 1900 when politicsplayed a significant role in American policing.

Lackof personnel standards

Policeofficers were selected and recruited based on political connections,rather than formal standards or qualifications. The selected andhired men and women did not receive any pre-service training.


Policepatrols were on foot, and officers could patrol for over four miles.As a result of inefficiency in infrastructure, some cities remainedunpatrolled[ CITATION Rep13 l 1033 ].It is hard to keep an eye on patrol officers as the immediatesupervisor also patrolled on foot, and there was no telephone.

Corruptionand politics

Corruptionwas a major problem within the police department they would takepayoffs from lawbreakers such as gamblers, prostitutes, and otherpetty criminals. The money acquired from the street would be dividedamong officers in different ranks[ CITATION Wil131 l 1033 ].Officers would also pay a bribe to get a promotion. As a result ofcorruption in the police department, reformers were unable to makeany substantial structural changes.

Theprofessional era

Theprofessional era was the period between 1900 and 1960s whentechnology and organized movement greatly influenced the Americanpolicing.

Theprofessionalism movement

Duringthis time advocacy for educating the police was made by AugustVollmer, chief of police in Berkeley between 1905 and 1932. He wasthe founder of American professionalism in the police by advocatinghigh standards in the recruitment process.

Thereform agenda

Policeprofessionalism was developed, and officers were charged with theresponsibility of serving the public. Additionally, reformers aimedat scrapping political influence on policing, and appointments tohigher officers were to be made based on meritocracy[ CITATION Rep13 l 1033 ].The impact of professionalism was epitomized in the appointment ofleaders, though corruption and operational inefficiency were common.


Themost notable modification in the professionalism era was theemergence of technology, resulting in transformation in patrol works,telephone, two-way radio, and the management of police operations.

Theera of conflicting pressures

Thepolice crisis of the 1960s

Thecase Miranda vs. Arizona of 1966 led to the emergence of Mirandarights, where the police had to read criminal offenders their rightsbefore being apprehended. Additionally, police officers joined acivil rights movement that sought to challenge the widespreaddiscriminatory practices in the policing department.

Newdevelopments in policing

Therewas a significant change in the American policing due to the civilrights movement persistent push for fairness in the department. Moreracial and ethnic minorities were being recruited as police officers.Moreover, discrimination against female was eliminated, and nowdepartments had a significant number of policewomen. At the beginningof the 21st century, American policing still faced challenges such asterrorism, economic crisis, and few cases of racial discrimination[ CITATION Wil131 l 1033 ].

Inconclusion, the society was regulated by a system of informal rulesand norms that defined conflict resolution mechanisms and publicbehaviors. The rise of governments and states led to the control ofAmerican policing. The federal government had the mandate to makecrucial decisions and influence state’s government decisions.Policing organizations have evolved due to the use of moderntechnology, reforms, and proper pre-service and in-service trainingand development programs.


Reppetto, T. A. (2013). American Police, A History: 1945-2012: The Blue Parade, Vol. II. New York: Enigma Books.

Williams, K. (2015). Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Oakland: AK Press.