Police history paper


Sir Robert Peel played an integral part in creation of the policedepartments and is referred to as the father of modern policing. Theimpact he had on the police department remains many years after hisdemise. Since introducing the bill for improving the police in andnear Metropolis in 1829, Sir Robert Peel worked tirelessly to see apolice force that can manage social conflict realized. Because of hisefforts, the first modern police department referred to Londonmetropolitan police was created in September 29, 1829 (Lundman,1980). He believed that crime prevention was the main function of thepolice rather than detecting it. Peel also developed nine principlesfor modern policing that later guided the formation of the US policedepartments. According to native police officers (1883), amongst theprinciples were putting the police under government control, havingan organizational structure that is military like and a centralheadquarter that the public would easily access. For Sir Robert, thequality of men employed as police officers would contribute to theorganizational legitimacy.

He believed that even-tempered and reserved men would make betterpolice for instance. Wearing uniforms that display badge numberswould also be important in helping the public identify with them. Thepolice should not carry firearms and should have received adequatetraining to be effective in their work. Most of his ideologies wereadopted by the American police and remain in place to date across theUS. Besides the principles that Peel espoused, he felt that ofgreater importance was the creating police who were willing toprotect the good of all.

The relationship between the US government and policing organizationsthroughout the US has tremendously changed. During 1700s colonialAmerica like England experienced population increase in major citiesresulting from an influx of immigrants coming from various countries.Because of population increase, social disorder and unrest wascreated calling for more formalized policing to take place. The watchgroups could no longer cope with the social climate as other forms ofpolicing came in. The slave patrols controlled the southern regionsand used high levels of brutality as they controlled the slavepopulation. Slave patrols were not completely disbanded after the endof slavery as other groups like state militia and ku Klux Klan cameup. With time, these groups started operating like newly establishedpolice department in the US. While some refer these groups as thefirst formal attempt at policing in America, others identify it asthe starting point for modern policing in US. Police departmentsunified starting with the New York City in 1845, St. Louis policedepartment 1846, Los Angeles police department in 1854 amongstothers. Their distinct characteristics were

  • limited police authority with powers defined by the law,

  • local control with local government bearing responsibility for providing the police and

  • Fragmented law enforcement whereby several agencies shared the responsibility within a defined area of providing police services (Monkkonen, 1982).

Issues of debate involving newly created departments includedwearing uniforms and carrying arms. Some American police felt thatwearing uniforms would make them subject of mockery. Regarding use offirearms, the police argued that the level of increasing violence atthe time warranted carrying firearms and using force whenevernecessary. Despite their objections, however they were required towear uniforms and carry clubs and revolvers by 1800s as the use offorce remains an issue of debate to date.

The relationship between the US government and policingorganizations significantly affected police practices. As theinfluence of police grew amongst the public, policing started playinga distinct role in the involvement of politics. By 1800, the policebecame powerful and policing was heavily entrenched in localpolitics. The police and local politicians shared a reciprocalrelationship in nature. Politicians hired police officers to maintainpolitical power. In return, the police got employment and policeofficers would help politicians stay in office through campaigningfor them to citizens. The relationship was so close that at somepoint hired politicians would recruit the entire police departmentpersonnel. The Police work with governments to provide services likehealth, law enforcement and social welfare to citizens.

In the 19th century, political involvement in Americanpolicing became a problem. The public and police reformerspressurized the police to make changes with several failed attempts.Early 20th century however saw significant changes takeplace in the US policing with the first goal being removal ofpolitics from American policing. According to Walker (2008), thiscreated a standard for recruiting police officers on merit andqualification rather than appointment by politicians.Professionalizing the police force was also another goal throughbetter police training and adoption of modern technology to help inthe daily operations of police.

As with any reforms, the current police force created cannot betermed as the best but it is playing its role in law enforcement,criminal justice and social order control. At times graphic picturesof police using force or hitting citizens as displayed in the mediaare questionable. Citizens want to feel safe around police officers.However, the traditional policing practices still in use andincreasing rates of crime create little room for the gap betweenpolice and citizens to close up. With efforts to improve and create afriendly police force, there is hope for citizens trusting the policeto protect them and control crime.


Lundman, R. (1980). Police and Policing: An Introduction. NewYork: Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Monkkonen, E. (1982) “From cop history to social history: Thesignificance of the police in American history.” Journal ofSocial History, 15:575–592

Native police officers (1883). Section 1, The History of thepolice, retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/50819_ch_1.pdf

Walker, K. (2008).&nbspThePolice in&nbspAmerica:An Introduction&nbsp(6thed.). :Mc Graw-Hill.