The Founder of Modern Policing

Topics: Police, Constable, Crime Pages: 7 (2557 words) Published: July 28, 2013
The Founder of Modern Policing
Greg Sondgeroth
DeVry University

The Founder of Modern Policing| June 1
A look into the career of August Vollmer, and the contributions he made in law enforcement that set America on the path of police professionalism, as a leader and example for all in law enforcement. | Intro to Policing Class|

Table of Contents

The Model of a True Reformer5
The Primary Objective for Vollmer6
The Press and Police7
The Public and Police8
Police and Criminals9

The primary subject of this paper will involve taking a look into the life and heart of one August Vollmer, considered by many to be the father of police professionalism in the United States. Although he has contributed so much to law enforcement, his name and the examples he set in his day are a fading memory today. In fact, during one course, Introduction to Criminology, his name did not hit the surface once in the course book, “Criminology Today,” by Frank Schmalleger, Ph.D., although it was Mr. Vollmer who was responsible for starting the first School of Criminology, in 1916, at the University of California, in Berkley. A friend and professor of the school who knew Vollmer, Austin MacCormick, said, “Chief Vollmer was known as the Father of Police Science.” (2) The fact that he is not mentioned in a book on Criminology is a sign all too common these days in the United States, where everything from agencies to businesses have forgotten their roots and foundations, and have become merely a shell of what they once were. This short paper will look at five aspects of policing as seen from Vollmer’s perspective. The first is that he was a reformer from the start, and was successful at reforming policing in America. The second is the heart of Vollmer, his objective for policing, which is crime prevention. The final three points are in relation to the press, the public and criminals, for police officials and officers, as they were used as crime prevention tools, each with its own purpose. This will not be a review of his accomplishments or contributions to today’s law enforcement, but an attempt to show that Vollmer had a single heart in relation to all his work, and it still serves as an example for today.

The Model of a True Reformer
August Vollmer was, first and foremost, a true reformer of policing in the United States, who laid the basic foundation on which it stands to this day. He began at a time when police departments were deep in political corruption, and when crime flourished, yet finished his career having set a standard so high that he was known in other countries and sought for advice. From starting out as a town marshal he went on to become the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He had such an impact on those who served under him that by the late 1940’s 25 men who served under him went on to become police chiefs, men to whom he passed on his motivation and spirit. (3) While his influence reached all branches of law enforcement, he was at heart a policeman, and always had the number one goal of police work in mind during his life: crime prevention. The starting point of a reformation within an organization begins with the reformer planting his own ideas and visions into the minds of his subordinates. Vollmer’s message was clear and precise on what it took to be a model policeman: “If the policeman would command the respect of others he must be mentally, morally and physically clean at all times…with an instinctive love for what is right, good, true and commendable…adding dignity to his profession by the pride he takes in doing his work without hope for a reward.” (4) He was a man who led by example, and others quickly followed him. To reform society, however, Vollmer believed entire police departments first needed reforming. He began the reforming of policing in America by rebuilding...
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