Policing in America
Police officers are the gatekeepers of criminal justice. They are the ones that initiate criminal proceedings against those accused of crimes and send them on their journey through the criminal justice system. Policing has evolved immensely over the centuries. Since the inception of policing in 1066, we have seen a transformation from ill-equipped, untrained, corrupt, and unsupervised watchmen to the highly trained and supervised police agencies we see today.
Question 1: Using Chapter 4, “Police in Society: History and Organization,” of your textbook, complete the table below.
History of the
Overview of the
Time Period – What Defined It
This Time Period
This Time Period
(list two per time period)
Policing initially began as villages protecting each other from thieves and marauders. This system was overseen by a constable, appointed by the local nobleman. This system expanded into the watch system that patrolled larger cities and towns. Watchmen patrolled at night to protect against robberies, burglaries, and fires. They reported to a constable making up a sort of primitive police agency.
Citizens were responsible for keeping their cities and villages safe. Giving citizens this responsibility made it tougher for criminals to commit a crime undetected.
While the people of the village were responsible for reporting crimes, there was no formal training involved and no oversight to ensure that those responsible for preventing crimes were not the same ones committing crimes.
1. Back then, counties were known as shires, and head law enforcement agents in a county were known as shire reves, which is where we get the modern-day term sheriff.
2. In 1326, the Justice of the Peace was created and the role of law enforcement expanded beyond just reporting crimes. Justices then also served warrants, investigated crimes, and supervised the local watchmen.
(Community Policing period)
Question 2: Which time period do you believe has had the greatest impact on policing, and why? Be sure to include your rationale.
Question 3: Social media and technology have greatly affected policing in the past ten years. Please review the links provided for this week on technology and policing along with Chapter 4 in your textbook as you prepare to discuss how technology affects policing in the 21st century.
Choose one of these three—cell phones, social media, or police body cams—and explain how it affects policing in today’s society. Describe the pros and cons and provide examples.