The American police force has a dark and complicated history that is rooted in racism and militant ideology. Across the country, calls for reform, defunding, and the demilitarization of the police continue to grow. In this social climate of civil unrest, change is imminent. It would be wise for the powers that be to take a serious look into the history of policing and its failures and refusal to protect and serve all, in order to develop a practice of law enforcement that is honest, just and fair for every citizen.
Historically, the practice of policing wasn’t established as a mainstream effort with collective goals to uphold society. Instead, it was enacted as a regionalized response to the perception of lawlessness and disorder in a particular area. In Colonial America, privately paid volunteers were employed as a “night watch” to curb prostitution and gambling. Later, according to Time.com, “The first publicly funded, organized police force with officers on duty full-time was created in Boston in 1838.” Their aim was to protect merchant’s goods and property as Boston was a large shipping center. However, in the south, policing began as “slave patrols” dating as far back as 1704 to uphold the preservation of slavery by capturing runaway slaves and preventing slave revolts.
In general, the exact definition of what constitutes law and order has varied interpretations which have historically leaned toward protecting the common interest of the socially and economically dominant majority. It should come as no surprise that in response to abuses of power and injustice; civil unrest, disobedience, riots, and looting are common American reactions to incite change.
As it pertains to the abhorrent application of law enforcement by police officers, you have to first understand the ideology behind it all. The police force has operated as a quasi-military force on domestic soil under the backing and full protection by the American government. It continues to fulfill its original requirements of acting as a commanding authority for citizens to obey. Police reformation is a daunting task considering the various layers of injustice, capitalism, power, and control in which our entire society is founded upon. The system is honestly working exactly as it was designed.