This paper will discuss the three eras of law enforcement looking at different aspects of the historical context of police, which will better help with understanding of how economic, political and social forces have molded the social policing institutions. The paper will also focus on the different transformational periods that law enforcement has undergone to be what it is today.
The 1840-1930 political era has been associated with five main aspects namely the fact that authority came from law and the politicians, foot patrols were extensively used, the social service function was broad, there existed a strong connection between the force and the community and it also portrayed a decentralized organization. The political era’s main disadvantage lay on the aspect that the police authority mainly depended on the law and politics. on the other hand, the close political connections also presented certain challenges.
For example, in New York regular officers even under the directive of a superior police officer could not be dismissed. The chief’s tenure was mainly limited to a year. Therefore, any early New York police officer who had strong political support could directly disobey the directives of his commanding officer. As compared to the British officers who were worried about things like wearing disorderly uniforms, showing up for work late and behaviors considered as disorderly to citizens, their American counterparts were assaulting their superiors, releasing their prisoners from other police officers custody and extorting money from the citizens.
It is unnecessary to point out that during this era. corruption became a major issue in law enforcement. The biggest underlined factor for corruption was the soils system that had a motto that suggested that to the victor goes for the spoils.