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«History of the American Police» - Great Essay Sample

«History of the American Police»


The American Police was founded with the aim of maintaining state law and order. It forms part of the Criminal Justice System together with the Judiciary. Amongst their duties are to deter crime, provide assistance in case of an emergency, serve notices and warrants of arrest and prevent destruction of property (Brace, 2005). The police service is an independent body within the justice system.

Events leading to the foundation of the police unit in America are traced to 1626 when the New York City Sherrif’s office was formed. Boston became the first night watch town in 1635 (Brace, 2005). When it came to 1638, the department of police was established, which  was known as the modern police in Boston. It followed the department of New York City Police in 1845. During these periods, the police did not show any inappropriate manners of conduct considering their activity. However, there were no specialized units within the force up to the 19th and 20th centuries.

Following the inventions in the motor vehicle industry, there was immense assistance that was granted to the police by use of cars for transportation. The use of telephones and the two-way radio made communication within the police force quick and efficient, an aspect that, therefore, enhanced the ability of officers to react to urgent needs. During the 20th century, however, the police were professionally trained. This was after the recommendations by Berkely, who was the California Police Chief (Brace, 2005). He advocated for the adoption of improved, modern technologies in the execution of police roles. He observed that if such changes were embraced, the duties of the police would be handled effectively and efficiently. The police adopted the recommendations, and this made the police a robust unit to prevent crimes and thereby promote law and order in the society.

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A student of Vollmer, by the names of O.W. Wilson, had a major influence in assisting to improve the police force through fighting corruption and enhancing professionalism. He did this by conducting regular police transfers of police to other communities to make them less prone to corruption and encouraging award of promotions based on performance and merit. He also emphasized on an aggressive recruitment exercise so that only qualified persons and capable ones are chosen to the force. This enhanced greatly police service delivery to the people. Despite these efforts to reform the police unit, some of the senior members of the force were autocratic with little respect for the human rights of people majorly the minority groups. The main roles of the police during these times were to fight drug felonies and serious crimes.

In the 1960s, urban unrest broke out (Rawls, 1999). This forced the police to embrace coordination with the local communities for the improvement of police duties. It also included reforms to improve community relations. This followed the adoption of community policing in the 1990s and the Problem-Oriented policing. There were major changes in the way in which the police carried out their duties. There was introduced a 'comp stat' which is a date based system for the mapping of crime areas, an aspect that, therefore, increased the appropriateness of the program for purposes of analysis and prevention of possible crimes. Some of the changes in the force also included inclusion of minority groups as members of the force including women and African Americans.

American Police History and Racial Profiling

Racial profiling in America is traced back to the following events that are considered to have had an impact of the practice up to the present. King Charles I ordered that all immigrants to America had to convert into Spanish or Catholics, else they would face persecution. This system was primarily against the American Indians. It had legal legitimacy.

John Elkin, a Maryland man, confessed to have murdered an American Indian in 1642 (Langeluttig, 2007). The justice system never sentenced him for the crime, as he was acquitted. This prompted the Governor to order another trial which resulted in the incarceration of the offender for a lesser crime of manslaughter. Murder was made legal in 1669. The slavery law was revised giving Masters the powers to kill their slaves. There was then the South Carolina slave patrol in 1704, where this police unit from North America was founded for the sole aim of finding and capturing of fugitive slaves. Evidence suggests that the government used this as a way to trade using the slaves. Innocent African Americans were thereby sold after their capture as the fugitive slaves.

Following the 1831 Nat Turner massacre, many African American slaves were captured, and fifty five of them were killed by the government forces. Many of them were picked at random and murdered. However, the enactment of the Equal Protection law that prohibited discrimination by any laws of States against any person presented a major overhaul (Rawls, 1999). This directive was never somehow enforced by the courts. It made racial profiling less formal.

The United States Attorney General, in 1919, A. Mitchel directed that raids carried out terrorism activities. They were perpetuated by the German and Russian Americans (Langeluttig, 2007). This led to the arrest of several of these group and mass deportations. This activity was solely carried out on grounds of race. Racial profiling received a huge endorsement by the Supreme Court following the ruling in the case of Korematic vs the United States. It was held that the ethnic profiling is constitutional when used in times of National emergency. From tales in New Jersey, it was found that Black drivers were the most searched than any other despite a research showing that Whites were more likely to carry contrabands than the Black drivers.

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Following the events of September eleventh attacks, several women of Arab origin were detained others imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay without any trials. These were done based on their religion that was associated with terrorism. In 2003, amid pressure from civil groups, President Bush signed a directive banning racial profiling. From the history, it is evident that as the police have held and continue to hold important roles within the security setup of America. Some of their activities have been unsatisfactory in regards to the respect of human rights and non-bias based on race or religion.

Past practices and beliefs have greatly impacted on the present practices by the police force. The biasness based on race and religion is rife within the police force (Langeluttig, 2007). The causes can be traced to the earlier regimes some of which legalized racial prejudice and religious influence too. Although some changes have been made regarding the need to ban discrimination. Analysing the performance of the traffic police, it was evident that there were more chances of them searching a black driver than a white driver. However, findings showed that the whites were more likely to be carrying contrabands than the blacks. Therefore, due to the historical sets of laws and practices that discriminated against some races and religions the present police have improved.

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The Police force was founded with the aim of maintaining law and order within the society. However, in the execution of its duties, there arose instances that constituted discrimination based on race or religion. The discrimination against certain groups of people emerged due to some associations and groups that encouraged terrorist activities. Some of the past regimes also seemed to support the discrimination through formulation of laws that permitted discrimination and use of the judicial mechanisms that were themselves discriminatory towards some races or religions. This practice has continued despite the formulation of various reform laws banning any kind of discrimination. This is believed to be influenced by the past practices. Hence, it has taken the time to create new systems that do not discriminate rights of every citizen.



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