American policing, according to several researchers, has had a tumultuous history within our
Beginning approximately in the late 1700s, individual citizens who served as part of the “slave
patrols”, according to Hubert and Murphy (1990), were the predecessors of modern police agencies.
These patrols, especially found in the South, served to
enforce “white” domination over blacks by
returning runaway slaves to their owners.
By the mid 1800s, modern police detachments had been
developed in urban centers, such as New York City and Chicago during a period known as “the
political era” (Kelling & Moore, 1988).
During this time, police officers had aligned themselves under
the influence of political leaders within the urban centers to create
These officers were members of the
community and did not report to a central headquarters.
They were often recruited through the local
political leaders of the communities and basically “were a significant resource at the command of local
political organizations” (Haller, 1976, 304).
Frustrated with the incessant police misconduct and corruption, “reformers” during the early
pushed for organizational and structural changes within police agencies.
These changes resulted
in what Kelling and Moore described as the “reform era” and is the basis for “traditional policing”
( Greene, 2000;
Facilitated by the urging of “reform” leaders and proponents,
Hoover and Augustus Vollmer, policing became centralized and
“professional” (Kelling & Moore,
1988; & Douthit, 1975).
In this form of policing, officers were isolated from the communities in which
they policed so as to be impartial and impersonal toward citizens.
Also, officer duties were limited to
law enforcement and crime control, which further weakened the relationship that officers had with
community members (Kelling & Moore, 1988).