Policing in America

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Policing as we know it today has developed from various political, economic, and social forces. To better understand the role of police in United States society, one has to know the history of how policing became what it is today. The following paper discusses the views of the historical context of police which helps us better understand how political, economic, and social forces have shaped the social institution of policing.

First, in "The Evolving Strategy of Policing," George Kelling and Mark Moore discuss the historical development of police strategy and design over three eras, which include the Political Era, Reform Era, and lastly the Community Problem-Solving Era. To begin with the Political Era, which encompassed roughly the years of 1840 to the early 1900s, where police were governed by local political leaders. Policing during this time was decentralized which opened the door for corruption through politics. Police departments were intimately connected to the social and political world. The tactics and technology during this time included foot patrols, call boxes where they were available. The lack of organizational control over officers resulting from decentralization and the political nature of police positions caused inefficiencies and disorganization. Also close relationships of citizens to the police resulted in discrimination against strangers and other who violated norms, ethnic minorities and racial groups. Kelling and Moore also discuss the Reform Era, which encompassed the 1920s through the 1970s. There was a growing middle class during this time with growing industry and corporate bureaucracy. Criminal law and police professionalism were the bases of police legitimacy. During the Reform Era policing became more centralized and also the social distance between police and community also increased. Technology became more important with patrol cars and radios which helped to organize officers more efficiently. Police became more rationalized...
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