Early Policing in Colonial America Research Proposal

History

Topic: Early policing in Colonial America Please make sure to use scholarly sources only. Identify a potential topic related to colonial history from 1492 to 1763. A good practice would be to search the contents of JSTOR, Ebrary, and ACLS for works related to the topic in which you are interested–look to see what is […]

Early policing in Colonial America

Background

Similar to Europe and Medieval England, geographic features and communities in Colonial America supported a communal regulation implementation loosely organized system. In Colonial America, the establishment of law enforcement was similar to that of England. Additionally, policing was considered a social responsibility. Generally, the constables served in villages and towns while the sheriff was in unincorporated areas. Primarily, the initial colonial need for security was not based on commercial or proprietary interest. Still, the fear of Indian attacks, vagrants, and fire composed the most significant and direct involvement of politics. As the population grew in urban areas, the watch, constables, and sheriff’s system proved insufficient in meeting law enforcement needs.

Problem Statement

The colonial police became a two-headed beast since it was the instrument utilized to pursue the government’s diverse goals. On the one hand, it sought and required the cooperation of the local population in reaching out to fulfill the needs of society for security. On the other hand, it provoked resistance in attempting to safeguard the state’s authority. The close interaction between colonial rule and the community heightened the need for a moral police force, an organization that promoted civilized values, was authoritative but caring, and was not only effective but also enlightened and professional. In this respect, that was the framework of the modern colonial law enforcement agency. Nonetheless, it remained a notion because, in practice, there was evidence of a different and violent side of the police that emphasized the weakness and brutal force of the colonial state.

Research Gap

Previous studies have discussed the establishment of policing in Colonial America for the control of public order and how the government used law enforcement to create the basis for a well-ordered state. In essence, these studies have considered the development and challenges of policing in an increasingly eclectic, diverse, and fragmented society based on modernization. Nonetheless, such studies have failed to present a postmodern sensibility concerning policing and social change. As such, the proposed research will offer an overview and descriptive analysis of the changes and shifts in operational practices, ideology, and structure of policing in colonial America. It further suggests that these transformations collectively designate the declining significance of modern strategies and ideals and the gradual emergence of the postmodern model of colonial policing.

Annotated Bibliography

Bloembergen, Marieke. “The Perfect Policeman: Colonial Policing, Modernity, And Conscience On Sumatra’S West Coast In The Early 1930S”. Indonesia 91 (2011): 165-191.

In this article, Bloembergen demonstrates that the colonial police is a new source for gaining knowledge on the multiple meanings of modernity and the functioning of the colonial state. The author exemplifies that the tension between the colonial police and the population generated an interesting association between the experiences of modernity in the colony, concepts of civilization, and colonial police. The police force, in this regard, was the watchdog, vehicle, and product of the drive for progress. However, for the modern police apparatus, it was possibly the officers of the political police who acted as the guardians and products of modernity, and they most evidently exemplified the different characteristics.

The thorough analysis in Bloembergen’s article provides significant results showing that in the general police force and political police, the senior officials and middle management were primarily the product of administrative training or modern police. They favored progress, at least in personal advancement and promotion. Therefore, the colonial police, for many reasons, is the perfect point of departure for an analysis of how different groups and individuals experienced ideas regarding civilization, progress, and modernity in colonial society itself. Last but not least, the article has indicated that the territorial police experienced a wave of current civil unrest, which was a significant drive to attain socio-economic, political, and religious progress.

Ferland, David. “Crime, Punishment And The Early History Of The Portsmouth NH Police Department; An American Law Enforcement Story.” Doctoral, Franklin Pierce University, 2012.

In this article, Ferland reviews the difficulties of being a police officer or constable in the colonial police. The analysis provides valuable insight regarding modernization, showing that there existed scant information about how to best police people in a society in Colonial America. There characterized a small compensation, with the posts available only for men. Uniforms had not yet been introduced, there were few written laws, and the police practice of uniformity was starting in America. Consequently, time was fast approaching to compel law enforcement systems to evolve with better consistency, management, and leadership.

The article has pointed out that one can quickly look back and possibly label the police officers in the colonial period as drunkards, lazy, corrupt, and ineffective. However, the author argues that the history of the police needs consideration within the context of its time. The lessons from history illustrate that the changes in the police were continuous based on the current level of the public’s expectations. The valuable lesson found in past practices is that competent police departments are responsive to society’s anticipations. Wise law enforcement leaders are sensitive and alert to these changing expectations in the community, with those not showing such characteristics replaced.

Durr, Marlese. “What Is The Difference Between Slave Patrols And Modern Day Policing? Institutional Violence In A Community Of Color”. Critical Sociology 41, no. 6 (2015): 873-879.

In his research, Durr illustrated that the police are the institutional protectors expected to keep social places, neighborhoods, cities, and citizens safe. According to Durr, this is what most Americans generally think. Nonetheless, the growing awareness of the behavior of the uniform guardians is questionable as people watch brutality performances that violate the understood beliefs regarding policing and police. In essence, this article is vital for the proposed study due to its honest perspective, demonstrating that in Colonial America, the development of policing in colonial America was focused on establishing slave patrols in the South. The slave patrols were to expressly control conflicts based on race in the southern colonies by managing slave populations.

Durr further pointed out that the evolution from slave patrols to police departments funded by the public was smooth in the north and South. Conversely, slave patrols were also considered the first formally recognized undertaking of policing in America. The author has also categorized the amalgamation of law enforcement departments in major cities in the 1800s as the start of modern policing in the United States. The newly structured police units implemented three distinct features from their English counterparts: fragmented police power, local administration, and restricted police authority.

Radil, Steven M., Raymond J. Dezzani, and Lanny D. McAden. “Geographies of U.S. Police Militarization and the Role of the 1033 Program.” The Professional Geographer 69, no. 2 (2017): 203-213.

The article by Radil, Raymond, and Lanny is useful in the proposed research topic as the author suggests that the challenge to the binary spatiality of the state and police is that, in the past, the scale of operations in American operations was much localized. This produced a highly differential set of contexts, tasks, and motives within which policing occurs. The authors have argued that this notion is evident in the differences between early modern law enforcement agencies in many northern cities in the U.S. and the slave patrol police forces in the South. The logic and motives of slave patrol policing in colonial America were based on upholding the status quo of slavery. On the other hand, the uniformed urban police forces were based on the local political machines of the era and not on the needs of the slavery system.

The research by Radil, Raymond, and Lanny would significantly contribute to the proposed research topic in various ways. For instance, the authors have exemplified that the objective of these early police forces was rarely regarding keeping order in the streets. Moreover, the conflict between social groups was frequently tolerated to keep competing groups in their place. Instead, the police were majorly concerned with maintaining order at the polls to warrant the reelection of their patrons.

Rickford, Russell. “Black lives matter: Toward a modern practice of mass struggle.” New Labor Forum. 25, no. 1. (2016): 35-42.

The article by Rickford is useful to the proposed research topic as the author suggests that the main objective since the days of slave patrol has been enforcing the racial hierarchy. Ironically, the intrusiveness and sheer scope of the modern carceral state offer distinct opportunities for organizers of Black Lives Matter. By opposing the racist policing in America’s patterns, the organizers are addressing a reality that touches the lives of most black Americans. In the post-segregation era, structural racism mostly lacked unambiguous apartheid symbols around which a widespread movement could cohere. In essence, mass incarceration and the methods of racialized policing in colonial America relying on, including “predictive policing,” “stop-and-frisk,” “broken window” and other extreme categories of surveillance, have uncovered the renewed but no less ruthless context of white supremacy. In poorer brown and white societies, the recognition that the police serve mainly to subjugate and monitor rather than to “protect” and “serve” has promoted both radical, oppositional consciousness and deep resentment. It has also generated the potential class-conscious and multiracial movement.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Bloembergen, Marieke. “The Perfect Policeman: Colonial Policing, Modernity, And Conscience On Sumatra’S West Coast In The Early 1930S”. Indonesia 91 (2011): 165-191.

Durr, Marlese. “What Is The Difference Between Slave Patrols And Modern Day Policing? Institutional Violence In A Community Of Color”. Critical Sociology 41, no. 6 (2015): 873-879.

Ferland, David. “Crime, Punishment And The Early History Of The Portsmouth NH Police Department; An American Law Enforcement Story.” Doctoral, Franklin Pierce University, 2012.

Radil, Steven M., Raymond J. Dezzani, and Lanny D. McAden. “Geographies of U.S. Police Militarization and the Role of the 1033 Program.” The Professional Geographer 69, no. 2 (2017): 203-213.

Rickford, Russell. “Black lives matter: Toward a modern practice of mass struggle.” New Labor Forum. 25, no. 1. (2016): 35-42.


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Published On: 01-01-1970

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