UNIT I STUDY GUIDE
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Differentiate between historic and contemporary viewpoints regarding types of crime, such as
conventional and economic crimes.
1.1 Discuss the history of policing from England to America.
1.2 Describe the roles of English policing, expansion, and development and how it contributed to
1.3 Discuss the changes in policing throughout the last sixty years in America.
To understand the history of policing, one must examine how policing has changed and progressed over time.
Throughout history, American policing has been largely influenced by the English system. During the early
time of its development, law enforcement in the community was handled by citizens. This was referred to as
kin police. This relationship required relatives to watch out for their own family members within the
Examining the time period between the start of the 19th century and the 21st century is one way to understand
policing history in American society. Depending on the resource used, the naming of these eras may slightly
differ; however, there is a mutual agreement on the powerful people and the significant events that occurred
over this time in American policing. An article from many years ago provides a foundation of these eras that is
still relevant to today’s society. An article by George Kelling and Mark Moore written back in 1988, entitled
“The Evolving Strategy of Policing”, discusses three eras as the structure of policing in the United States.
The first era discussed in Kelling and Moore’s (1988) article is known as the political era. During this era,
police were authorized by local municipalities. Authority and resources were derived from local political
leaders. Due to the close connection of police and politicians in the political era, police were able to offer a
great deal of services to citizens, including social services. During the latter part of the 19th century, police
administered soup lines, offered short-term lodging for recently arrived migrant workers, and assisted with
locating work for migrants (consisting of police and other types of occupations) (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
During the political era, foot patrol was heavily used. It was the main approach used by police, due to the
limited use of technology during this time period. Political approval and preservation of citizen and social
control was the expected conclusion of policing during the political era (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
The second era discussed in the article is called the reform era (Kelling & Moore, 1988). In the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, conflict between citizens and leaders began to arise, which created a continuous
struggle. Citizens began to complain about issues such as abuse and corruption occurring within the policing
system, and they set out to change the strategies used within policing, which is why this era came to be
known as the reform era (Kelling & Moore, 1988). Reformers considered politics and political association
within the policing system a hindrance for American policing. The focus of policing shifted to crime control and
criminal apprehension, and agencies were no longer identified as police agencies. The term for the agencies
was now classified as law enforcement agencies (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
The primary objective of the police was to control crime. “During the late 1960s and 1970s, the reform
strategy ran into difficulty. First, regardless of how police effectiveness in dealing with crime was measured,
BCJ 2001, Theory and Practices of Law Enforcement
police failed to substantially improve their record” (Kelling & Moore, 1988, p. 8).
during the 1960s (Kelling & Moore, 1988). Police were failing to meet the expectations
Title of law enforcement
agencies and the public, even with the increase in personnel and new equipment (eg, 911 systems and
computer dispatch). Secondly, many minority citizens, specifically African Americans during the 1960s and
1970s, questioned the treatment received by police. They believed that they were receiving inequitable and
inadequate treatment. This led to Civil Rights Movements to challenge and contest police actions, which, in
turn, led to resisting the police within some communities. At this point, the reform strategies seemed doubtful
due to the social changes of the 1960s and 1970s, as these strategies were unable to adjust to the changing
social conditions (Kelling & Moore, 1988). This leads us to the third and last era discussed in the article.
The last era discussed in the article is called the community problem-solving era (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
Many cities continued to heavily utilize foot patrol in their communities. Foot patrol contributed to stable life
within communities as it decreased fear, increased citizen satisfaction, improved police attitudes toward
citizens, and increased the morale and job satisfaction of police. During this time period, many communities
were testing the idea of community-oriented policing. With community-oriented policing, the function of the
police was expanded to include strategies and emphasis on communities. Unlike the reform era, the
community strategy emphasized crime control and prevention. These strategies included community oriented
policing, conflict resolution, education, information gathering, and problem solving within the community
(Kelling & Moore, 1988).
Click the following link to view a presentation that discusses American policing eras:
Many events that occurred in the last decade or so have changed the dynamics of policing. One important
event that occurred was Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina has
been classified as the most expensive natural catastrophe to occur in the United States (Smith & Rojek,
2006). Due to the lack of pre-planning, the devastation of this hurricane was horrendous. Law enforcement
agencies in Mississippi and Louisiana lacked any formal hurricane plans. Law enforcement officers had not
trained for any natural disaster, especially a hurricane of this magnitude. Prior to the storm, agencies hurried
to put a plan of action together. Because of an absence of disaster preparation, law enforcement officers were
strained to deliver public safety to the community. Many officers provided efforts that were noble and
honorable; however, they could have been even more effective if a response plan had been in place. Above
all, Katrina showed that pre-disaster planning and regular training are necessary at all levels of government,
including local law enforcement (Smith & Rojek, 2006).
Hurricane Katrina offers a great example of what can occur during and after an extreme natural disaster if a
formal plan for public safety is not in place. When officers and agencies were questioned about their concerns
for what transpired after the storm, many provided a comparable picture of the officers’ response to the
catastrophe and the safety matters that needed to be addressed. The first concern discussed by those
questioned was how search and rescues were handled. During the storm, law enforcement officials attempted
to ensure the safety of the citizens who remained in town. Officers gradually went into neighborhoods and
homes to check on any citizens who were left behind. Due to the lack of communication, especially telephone
service, law enforcement entities did not have a method to receive calls from citizens; officers could only
listen out for cries for assistance. When citizens were discovered, officers attempted to move individuals to
places of safety, such as hospitals, police stations, or even land that was not flooded (Smith & Rojek, 2006).
As the efforts of search and rescue continued, officers also had to manage looting that was occurring within
the community. As relief trucks began to arrive and distribution places were established, officers were tasked
with providing security for those relief trucks. Citizens were growing desperate and might have overtaken
these centers if law enforcement had not provided security. Officers were also tasked with distributing these
supplies to the citizens who were otherwise unable to get to relief trucks.
Local authorities across the Gulf Coast frankly admitted that they were ill-prepared for such an unprecedented
disaster (Smith & Rojek, 2006). The experience of Katrina served as a lesson to state and local law
enforcement. Preparation for natural disasters is a continuous effort as they are inevitable. Katrina provides
an ideal backdrop for continuous discussion on how to better prepare at the state and local levels for the next
disaster (Smith & Rojek, 2006).
Another important event that changed the nature of policing in America was the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2011. After the terrorist attacks, President George Bush developed the Department of Homeland Security.
BCJ 2001, Theory and Practices of Law Enforcement
The creation of this department was the greatest reorganization of federal organization
UNIT x STUDY
(Dempsey & Forst, 2013). The primary task of the Department of Homeland Security
Title is to preserve and
improve the nation’s emergency management system. With the implementation of Homeland Security, the
United States enforced stringent safekeeping measures. The task of the Department of Homeland Security is
to safeguard the country from additional terrorist attacks. Many federal offices assist with homeland security
including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI; the TSA is one department that is at the forefront
of the attempt to protect air transportation. Air travel now involves a vigorous process to include examination
of all air travelers.
For more information regarding the historical development of law enforcement, please view the following
Dempsey, J. S., & Forst, L. S. (2013). Police (2nd ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.
Kelling, G. L., & Moore, M. H. (1988, November). The evolving strategy of policing. Retrieved from
Smith, M. R., & Rojek, J. (2006). Law enforcement lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. Retrieved from
To learn more about the history of policing in the United States, please view the following video:
Bucqueroux, B. (2007, March 9) History of policing in the U.S. – part one [Video file]. Retrieved from
BCJ 2001, Theory and Practices of Law Enforcement
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