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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74710 Find in a Library
Title: Police in America - Functions and Control (From History and Crime, P 211-224, 1980, James A Inciardi and Charles E Faupel, ed. - See NCJ-74702)
Author(s): J F Richardson
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The history of police functions is traced from the organization of police forces to the 1960's, and police functions in the latter half of the twentieth century are identified and discussed.
Abstract: Early police forces consisted of separate groups which performed different functions. Night watchmen checked for fires and monitored the activities of disorderly youth. Constables and marshalls performed civil processes and recovered stolen property on a commission basis. The latter two groups were often accused of corruption, and were unwilling to spend time on unrewarded crime detection and prevention. In 1829, the first preventive police forces were organized, based on the London Metropolitan Police model. These forces were also charged with riot control and the suppression of objectionable public behavior. Police departments acquired large numbers of unrelated duties, ranging from taking the census to cleaning streets. These duties were eliminated during the latter half of the nineteenth century. During the 1890's the police evolved into a source of employment for working class men. Police forces were controlled and curbed by the local political structure and were expected to selectively enforce social concepts of morality. Reform movements early in the twentieth century resulted in the development of a professionalized local government structure and with it a police bureaucracy. During the 1920's the police role came to be centered on crime fighting and traffic control duties. Civil unrest during the 1960's focused increased attention on the police and led to a movement to place them under the control of local political structures again. The police should be viewed as a municipal agency rather than as only part of the criminal justice system because they provide a variety of services in addition to crime control. Above all, successful police officers are human relations specialists. Notes which include references are included.
Index Term(s): Police responsibilities; United States of America
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