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Policing America: Patrolling the Streets and Controlling the Public, 1832-1916

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posted on 2024-05-10, 20:54 authored by Heather Lane
In this dissertation, I compare the founding and early evolution of police forces in three American cities—Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco---from 1832 to 1915. Most modern police histories focus on a single city, but using sources from these three cities allows me to tell a broader story. American urban policing developed quickly, with many cities establishing their own police forces between 1830 and 1860. These forces developed amidst a national—and transnational—conversation about policing, which shaped their rise. These cities built their official police forces at different stages of urban development. Philadelphia was well-established by the advent of official police forces in America, Chicago was an up-and-coming urban center when leaders set up their police department, and San Francisco’s police force was created the same year the city was chartered. Despite these differences, the national conversation about policing—both inside and outside of departments—shaped these cities’ forces so strongly that we see more convergence than variation on everything from record-keeping to electric technology. I argue that the day-to-day work of the patrolman walking his beat is central to understanding the structure and function of these police forces during this period. Despite the differences among these cities, each devoted the overwhelming majority of their police resources to foot patrol. I divide the dissertation into two sections. Part 1, from 1832-1880, discusses the formation of these three police forces, their early histories, and their relationships to one another. In Part 2, from 1880-1915, I suggest the profusion of authorized works of police history in the 1880s marked a new era for these American forces. During this period, police leaders worked to distinguish themselves as professionals with clear aims and specialized knowledge. They claimed to provide valuable urban resources in the fight against crime and held this up as their forces’ core function. In doing so, they tried to set limits on expanding police duties and lobbied for increased resources. They built bureaucracies to control their subordinates and added technical departments in the interests of tackling “serious crime.” This increased the tension between their stated purpose and the continuing predominance of foot patrol in everyday police practice.

History

Date Created

2024-04-15

Date Modified

2024-05-10

Defense Date

2024-03-25

CIP Code

  • 54.0101

Research Director(s)

Thomas A. Tweed

Committee Members

Emily Remus|Rebecca McKenna|Jon Coleman

Degree

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Level

  • Doctoral Dissertation

Language

  • English

Library Record

6584698

OCLC Number

1433161798

Publisher

University of Notre Dame

Program Name

  • History

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