Skip to main content

Policing American Cities: Crisis and Reform from the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

  • 394 Accesses

Abstract

The history of policing in America cities since the colonial period has been shaped by the country’s distinctive legal culture and political traditions (leading to fragmented, local control), by power struggles of class, ethnicity, and race (leading to corrupt, unequal, and often abusive policing), but also by cycles of reform (leading to distinct eras of policing styles). Urban policing has both reflected larger historical forces and trends—including industrialization, demographic change, capitalist transformation—and become one itself, shaping the outcomes of social conflict and much of the daily lives of city residents. Technological change, likewise, has remade both the legal relationship between citizens and law enforcement and the supervisory relationship between police officers and police administrators. Awareness of this broader history underscores the malleability of seemingly fixed cultural concepts—notably those of race, rights, and resistance—as well as highlights the possibility and limits of efforts to reform American policing.

Keywords

  • Policing history
  • Police violence
  • Police corruption
  • Police reform

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-77565-0_2
  • Chapter length: 27 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   169.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-77565-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    For slave patrols generally, see (Hadden, 2001); for free Blacks riding in slave patrols, see p. 73; for women, see p. 103. Scholars of the Transatlantic Slave Trade might also note that for many enslaved Blacks, slave patrols were the second institution aiming to police their behavior. The first was often other enslaved Africans (frequently women) who kept order below decks on the Middle Passage through the use of arms. See (Smallwood, 2007).

  2. 2.

    The Supreme Court would finally hold confessions made after ingesting “truth serums” to be unconstitutionally coercive in 1963 with Townsend v. Sain.

  3. 3.

    As of this writing, Roland Fryer was suspended from Harvard’s faculty for sexual harassment.

  4. 4.

    According to the Washington Post’s database, there were 12 such deaths in 2019 and 15 in 2020. As a “small number,” not much can be concluded from such variation.

References

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gregory “Fritz” Umbach .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Umbach, G.“. (2022). Policing American Cities: Crisis and Reform from the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Centuries. In: Jeglic, E., Calkins, C. (eds) Handbook of Issues in Criminal Justice Reform in the United States. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77565-0_2

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77565-0_2

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-77564-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-77565-0

  • eBook Packages: Law and CriminologyLaw and Criminology (R0)