Chapter 5 – History and Structure of American Law Enforcement

Chapter 5 – History and Structure
of American Law Enforcement
Chapter 5
Chapter 5
The Limited Authority of
American Law Enforcement
The United States has almost 18,000 public
law enforcement agencies. The jurisdiction
of each agency is carefully limited by law.
Law enforcement is also limited by the
procedural law derived from U.S. Supreme
Court decisions.
Chapter 5
The Limited Authority of
American Law Enforcement
Even compared with other democratic nations
of the world, the U.S. has remarkably more
police agencies that operate under far more
restrictions to their authority.
Like much of the criminal justice system, this
limited law enforcement model came from
Chapter 5
English Roots
Our familiar law enforcement system, in
which uniformed officers respond to calls for
help and plainclothes detectives investigate,
developed over hundreds of years in England.
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The Tithing System
By the 12th century in England, the practice of
resolving disputes privately gave way to a
system of group protection, called the tithing
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tithing system
A private self-held protection system in early
medieval England, in which a group of ten families,
or a tithing, agreed to follow the law, keep the peace
in their areas, and bring law violators to justice.
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The Tithing System
In larger areas, ten tithings were grouped
together to form a hundred, and one or several
hundreds constituted a shire. The shire was
under the direction of the shire reeve.
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The Constable-Watch System
The Statute of Winchester, in 1285,
formalized the constable-watch system of
• One man from each parish was selected to be
• Citizens were drafted as (unpaid) watchmen, and
were required to come to the aid of a constable or
watchman who called for help.
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constable-watch system
A system of protection in early England in which
citizens, under the direction of a constable, or chief
peacekeeper, were required to guard the city and to
pursue criminals.
The peacekeeper in charge of protection in early
English towns.
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The London Metropolitan Police
• The Industrial Revolution brought a huge
influx of people into London, and along
with them, increasing poverty, public
disorder, and crime.
• In 1829, Parliament created the London
Metropolitan Police, a 1,000-member
professional force.
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The London Metropolitan Police
The police became known as bobbies or
peelers after Robert Peel, who had pushed for
their creation.
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The London Metropolitan Police
The police were organized around Peel’s
Principles of Policing.
• The London Police were organized according to
military rank and structure.
• The main function of the police was to prevent
crime by preventive patrol of the community.
Chapter 5
The Development of American
Law Enforcement
The United States has more police
departments than any other nation in the
Virtually every community has its own police
force, creating a great disparity in the quality
of American police personnel and service.
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Early American Law
Settlers to the new
In many rural areas, a
American colonies brought sheriff and posse system
with them the constablewas commonly used.
watch system, which
became common (although
not necessarily effective) in
America developed with two separate law
enforcement systems.
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Municipal Police Forces
• In 1844, New York City created the first paid,
unified police force in the U.S.
• Other cities followed suit, creating their own police
departments, often merely an organization of the
existing day and night watch.
• It was not until after the Civil War that police
forces routinely began to wear uniforms and carry
Chapter 5
Tangle of Politics and Policing
• Until the 1920s in most American cities,
local political leaders maintained complete
control over the police force.
• The political and police systems in many
cities were corrupt, and jobs, politics, and
law enforcement all depended on paying
money to the right person.
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Southern Slave Patrols
• In the South, the earliest form of policing
was the plantation slave patrols.
• Slave codes prohibited slaves from:
– holding meetings
– leaving the plantation without permission
– traveling without a pass
– learning to read and write
• Slave patrols often whipped and terrorized slaves.
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slave patrols
The earliest form of policing in the South. They were
a product of the slave codes.
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Frontier Law Enforcement
In the American frontier, justice often meant
Self-protection remains very popular in the
South and West.
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State Police Agencies
Growing populations, as well as the inability
of some local sheriffs and constables to
control crime, led states to create their own
law enforcement agencies.
• Texas officially created the Rangers in 1835.
• Pennsylvania established the first modern state law
enforcement agency in 1905.
• By the 1930s, every state had some form of state
law enforcement agency.
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Professionalism and Reform
• Until the late 19th century, there were no
qualifications required for law enforcement
• Cincinnati was the first city to require
qualifications of police officers:
– High moral character
– Foot speed
Chapter 5
Professionalism and Reform
It was not until the early 20th Century that
reformers began advocating training and
education for police officers.
Reformers also aimed to remove the police
from political influences.
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The Structure of American Law
American law enforcement agencies are
extremely diverse in:
• Jurisdictions
• Responsibilities
• Employers (hospitals, colleges, transit
authorities may have their own police)
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Municipal Police Departments
Most police departments (almost 90%) in the
U.S. employ fewer than 50 sworn officers.
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Organizational Structure
Large departments
have many
Small departments
rarely have
departments, or
officers trained in
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County Law Enforcement
A substantial portion of law enforcement work
in the United States is carried out by the
sheriff’s departments.
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County Law Enforcement
County sheriff and department personnel
perform many functions:
Investigating crimes
Supervising sentenced offenders
Enforcing criminal and traffic laws
Serving summons, warrants, and writs
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County Law Enforcement
• Providing courtroom security
• Transporting prisoners
• Operating a county jail
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Politics and County Law
Most sheriffs are directly elected and depend on
an elected board of county commissioners or
supervisors for funding.
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State Law Enforcement
State law enforcement agencies provide
criminal and traffic law enforcement, and
other services particular to the needs of that
state government.
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State Law Enforcement
Each state has chosen one of two models for
providing law enforcement services:
State police model
Highway patrol model
Example: Texas
Example: California
Highway Patrol
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state police model
A model of state law enforcement services in which
the agency and its officers have the same law
enforcement powers as local police, but can exercise
them anywhere within the state.
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highway patrol model
A model of state law enforcement services in which
officers focus on highway traffic safety, enforcement
of the state’s traffic laws, and the investigation of
accidents on the state’s roads, highways, and on state
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Federal Law Enforcement
Among the best-known federal law
enforcement agencies are:
U.S. Secret Service
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Drug Enforcement Agency
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Federal Law Enforcement
Lesser-known agencies also exist. Their
jurisdictions are narrowly defined by specific
• Postal inspectors
• Federal Protective Services
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Federal Law Enforcement
Major differences between federal law
enforcement and local and state police are:
• Federal agencies operate across the nation.
• Federal agencies usually do not have
peacekeeping duties.
• Some federal agencies have very narrow
Chapter 5
American Private Security
Private security in the United States is a huge
The U.S. spends about 75% more on private
security than on public policing each year.
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American Private Security
Private security employment is often
categorized two ways:
Contract security
Proprietary security
Example: security
guards hired for a
college football game
Example: the security
force for a corporation’s
manufacturing plants
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contract security
Protective services that a private security firm
provides to people, agencies, and companies that do
not employ their own security personnel or that need
extra protection. Contract security employees are not
peace officers.
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proprietary security
In-house protective services that a security staff,
which is not classified as sworn peace officers,
provide for the entity that employs them.
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Reasons for Growth
A number of factors have stimulated the
phenomenal growth of private security since
the 1970s:
• Declining revenues for public policing.
• The private nature of crimes in the workplace.
Companies can control and hide crimes by
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Reasons for Growth
• Better control and attention to the problem,
particularly within a business.
• Fewer constitutional limitations on the actions of
private security officers.

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