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History, Ethics, and Integrity of the Police

We are living in tumultuous times these days, especially for those in the law enforcement profession. The English influence of Sir Robert Peele is the prominent history of policing in America. However, given the recent event, others have asserted that American policing developed roots in “slave patrols.”

Based on the readings and other sources you locate, avoiding any political rhetoric, compare and contrast the history of policing. Which was most influential in the development of policing today – the English influence or the Southern influence? Why? Where do you see this influence as part of policing in the US? Please discuss.

REQUIRED: Post a substantive initial response to the discussion question. Your posts must be based on factual academic information (not personal opinion) supported with citations to at least two (2) academic reference located through the UMGC Library or professional references, in addition to the course materials, to demonstrate you have read and understood the lecture and the assigned readings and also that you have read all prior postings by the instructor and other students. Please use the correct APA format in citing any source material you use. Refer to the APA Manual link posted in the Discussion area.

Sample Solution

Sir Robert Peel was a visionary who began the evolution of London’s Metropolitan Police force by authoring a preventive approach to law enforcement rather than a detective one. It is noted that external factors drove Peel to deliver this initiative as riots and social unrest became noticeable in the late 1700s. The French Revolution, religious disagreements, and price increases on commodities such as housing and food in London became reasons for riots in the country throughout the late 1700s (White, 2009) – keep in mind that the war within the colonies was also from 1775 – 1783. Previous to this timeframe, citizen-based watch groups grew to be unorganized and unsuccessful as standards were not being met accordingly. As Peel began to mold the Metropolitan Police force, he realized that a degree of structure and accountability must oversee the police group much like any new government. He believed that organizational military-type structure, government control, appropriate use of force, and an easily accessible headquarters office were the first principles within these new police forces. In addition, Peel believed that identifiable (uniformed) officers would help deter crime rather than serve justice to a crime after it was committed. Peel’s actions during the evolution of social order act as the foundation of where the structure and organization of the original police force derives; historically, this was his initial influence. Seeing how the original colonies were all Englishmen, several characteristics and mannerisms were adopted during the colonial timeframe; the principles of policing were one of them. As essential as any foundation is, the lack of historical data, archives, examples, and primary sources prevent Peel from being the most influential aspect of the development of policing today. The current policing of today is based on the principle of Peel, but unfortunately, American policing has been negatively influenced and evolved since the 1700s and was primarily influenced by the adverse effects of 1800–1900s America (The history of the police, n.d.).

From 1845 – 1869 the first established police departments were created in larger cities such as New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Motivated by the characteristics of their English counterparts, this department adopted three characteristics to abide by, including limited police authority, local government control, and shared policing responsibilities within a defined area. During the 1800-1900s, police personnel and their actions were woven into early American politics. Lack of training, supervision, oversight, and accountability led to police misconduct and corruption. From 1900-1970 the police reform corrected several of these previous issues mentioned; however, race-related issues began to grow during the 1950s, throughout the Civil Rights era, and still current in today’s society. Traditional policing began the ‘us versus them’ mentality during the Civil Rights era as the focus on response times, and arrest numbers drove a wedge between police officers and the communities and citizens they protect (The history of the police, n.d.).

Slave patrols were an early development within colonial America in the 1700s that saw a similar attempt at policing from their English counterparts. Maintaining order and accountability during slave trades were the primary duties of these patrol groups and would last until slavery was abolished after the Civil War in 1865. The selection of slave patrollers was a mixture between state militia, a civic obligation, volunteerism, and mandatory volunteerism. In states like South Carolina in the 1730s, slave patrollers were appointed by police commissioners, with orders coming from military commanders, governors, and commissioners. The goal was to monitor plantations and search for runaway slaves to be brought back to the plantation owner, essentially maintaining the segregation between race, class, and society.

In 1850, The Fugitive Slave Act was part of the Missouri Compromise of 1850, which called for all citizens in Northern or free states to capture and return all runaway slaves to their owners. This compromise was used as a bargaining chip so that newer states could be deemed free states, while Southern slave states maintained the right to their runaway slave property (McMullen, 2019). As industrials tools such as Eli Whitney’s cotton gin became popular in the South, slave patrollers migrated to the city where they became organized police officers (modern policing) with morals and ethics originating from their slave patrolling days (The history of the police, n.d.). Hansen (2019) states that even though slave patrols were extinguished after abolishing slavery, its 150-year practice influenced the parallel between slave patrols and terrorist tactics used during the Reconstruction era.

For this reason, I believe that slave patrolling is a more influential factor in policing today. Stating that previous sentence out of context would sound barbaric; however, unlike Peel’s original policing structure, there is more historical data, archives, primary sources, and proof of how slave patrolling evolved from the immoral yet ordered actions within the South into modern policing within new developing cities in America. Although slave patrolling was predominantly a southern initiative, the roots of this organization have carried on throughout the birth of the United States. Unfortunately, they are still witnessed and examined throughout the societal, class, and racial issues today (The history of the police, n.d.).

 

Hansen C. (2019, July 10). Slave patrols: An early form of American policing. National Law Enforcement Museum. https://lawenforcementmuseum.org/2019/07/10/slave-patrols-an-early-form-of-american-policing/

The history of the police. (n.d.). Sage, pp. 1-45. http://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/50819_ch_1.pdf

McMullen, K. (2019). “This Damned Act”: Walt Whitman and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 37(1–2), 1.  https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.umgc.edu/login.aspx
?direct=true&db=edsglr&AN=edsglr.A612031560&site=eds-live&scope=site

White, M. (2009, October 14). Popular politics in the 18th century. Georgian Britain. https://www.bl.uk/georgian-britain/articles/popular-politics-in-the-18th-century