Eras of American Policing and Their Origin

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Eras of American Policing and Their Origin

American policing originated from early English law and is profoundly influenced by its history. Early law enforcement in England took on two forms of policing, one of which heavily influenced modern policing and it is known as the watch (Potter, 2013). The watch consisted, at first, of volunteers which had to patrol the streets for any kind of disorder including crime and fire. After men attempted to get out of volunteering by paying others, it became a paid professional position (Walker & Katz, 2012). The three eras of policing in America are shaped by these early ideas and practices of law enforcement. Throughout time, sufficient improvements and advancements have been made from the political era to the professional era and finally the community era which attempts to eliminate corruption, hire qualified officers and create an overall effective law enforcement system.

The first police department in America developed in New York and began the first era of policing which spanned from the 1830s to 1900 and is known as the political era (Walker & Katz, 2012). As emphasized by Walker (1999) not only did the political era of policing revolve around politics but provided officers with little to no training, education or recruitment standards (as cited in Police: History, 2014). The era also forced shaky job security for law enforcement and officers could be fired and hired at any point with little to no reason. Even men with criminal records were foot patrolling and women were only seen as “matrons” for the jail; they did not carry weapons and often times had very little arrest discretion (Walker & Katz, 2012). According to Walker and Katz (2012), “a $300 payment to the Tammany Hall poli...

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