news.gif (12017 bytes)History of Law Enforcement Part 1 by Dr. Scott Neff President American Academy for Justice Through Science

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     It is clear that the most difficult tasks for any civilized people to accomplish are securing safety, ensuring and promoting health, education, gathering and preparing foods, building dwellings, and providing human services.  Yet absent any laws, code of ethics or morals, hideous heinous behaviors occurred. 

     Students of ancient history know that their siblings often killed and ate early man and that their mothers were taken for reproductive purposes.  Sophocles wrote plays on these subjects whom Freud later developed into his theories of human psychology and behavior.  In these early plays of Sophocles he described early man, being eaten by his sons.  The sons then would take the mother as their own for sex etc.  From this early description, Freud developed his Electra Oedipus theories.  Crimes, like bad behavior are unfortunately characteristics demonstrated by humanity since our earliest recordings no matter the etiology.    

     Further, early man would sacrifice their first male born or less commonly women, to eliminate disease, bad weather, crime, attack by foreign warriors and just about any other superstition.  In fact it was not until the time of Abraham, approximately 6,000 years ago, that the Jewish religion was created.  Many pragmatists believe this early religion was created to protect women and children from sacrifice, rape, murder, pillaging, incest, or starvation.  By creating the Jewish religion, theIr laws were the first to protect all women, children and the disabled

     Little known to most people is the fact that the Sabbath, was and still is today, the celebration of the female spirit being brought into the world.  These early sacred celebrations were the beginning of moral and ethical law enforcement.  Beginning in the Old Testament, the Garden of Eden placed reasonable limitations via Gods law.  From these laws through specific profits describing events of the Bible, additional laws were written born out of experience and necessity, which prescribe and govern people’s conduct toward each other, toward individual states, and nations.      

     The 10 laws of Moses known as the Ten Commandments also supplemented these.  Even today as in those early years of mankind, laws were enforced by punishment through fines, loss of group and private privileges, various time frames for imprisonment’s and even death or banishment from society.  Thus it is clear that criminal behavior has been reported since the beginning of human recordings.

     As time progressed, and prior to the beginning of organized religion as laws, early human beings banded together in-groups to survive.  This grouping behavior offered mutual protection against wild animals as well as other groups or people.  Many historians believe the groups were divided into those, which were territorial or stayed within regions and those that wandered much like nomadic tribes.  In either case, these communities were dependent on assigning jobs.  The strongest and most reliable people stood guard as early police, while others gathered food and still others, prepared it.      

     Early groups of people later became tribes and communities of dwellers, which became more common than the wandering groups.  As communities developed rituals, regulations developed to assign ownership of property and well as food and families.  Obviously, along with the development of such rules, a class system evolved for enforcement purposes.  This development of various “law enforcement” entities is the focus of this first Chapter with emphasis on historical chronological development as well as noting the most historical yet shocking crimes, which necessitated such enforcement. These inverse relations, those of crime and need for law enforcement form the foundation for the development of mankind both socially and culturally.

     Governments developed to oversee territories. Social mores defined laws or rules consistent with the varying groups.  It is interesting to note that the word police has been mostly attributed to the Greek word polis, which means "city" or a system of organized civil enforcement to preserve life, property, food sources, community health and the enforcement of laws.  Later, the French word policer came to mean the power of the people. Yet it was not until 1829 under the leadership of Sir Robert Peel that an Act of English Parliament officially designated the title of “police.”         

     Civilization’s earliest police rule was delegated by the strongest that eventually became the territorial leaders.  King, Pharaoh, and Emperor are examples of titles held by such territorial leaders who often passed down such leadership by either family descendants or military take over.

     Although such early leaders were informed, it was not until the early Chinese, Indians, and Jews that such enforcement included, the elimination of sacrificing children to invisible kings or gods, and protection of women and children.  Such early enforcement can be traced back to events when Abraham who banned cannibalism, and developed early written laws to protect women as I indicated earlier in this chapter.     

     The point is that world civilization formalized and began to “write early laws”.  Over 6,000 years ago, the early Jews developed the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, to guide and civilize mankind. The Ten Commandments are the foundation for all laws in all nations today.  Moses Momomidies later added 365 additional laws, which combined with the Ten Commandments, forming the basis for today's Legal System.

     Of course similar minds think similarly in different locations and at the same time other peoples developed laws.  For example, the Early Chinese developed a penal code; the Indian Rulers used the Code of Manu; the Code of Hammurabi was used by the Ancient Babylonians about 2000 BC, and the Roman’s law of 450 AD used the Roman Digest (later, at the time of Justinian, 550 AD, additional changes were made)

     By 2325 AD, the English used the Magna Carta from King John called the "The Great Charter."  The Magna Carta is the very foundation of which the US Constitution was founded upon.  The Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta and the US Constitution guaranteed the people of England and the United States the fundamental liberties and freedoms, which should have been self-evident for democratic societies.  These documents preserve our greatest heritages in that no person would be deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness absent due process of law and justice. 

     About 700 AD, the people living in England in small rural towns used the Anglo-Saxon system.  Ten families in a town (tun) equaled a tithing.  Each tithing elected a leader who was known as the tithingman.  Since 10 tithings amounted to 100, the leader of the 100 families was named the reeve.  Both the tithingman and reeve were elected officials. They possessed judicial power as well as police authority.     

     As the population grew, the tithings were expanded into a shire, which is the equivalent of our American County.  The leader of the shire became the shire-reeve, subsequently abbreviated to sheriff, and the tithingman eventually became the undersheriff.

     Thus, from 700 to 800 A.D, the Kings of England rewarded loyal citizens with titles, known as nobleman, and granted them large estates.  It was the noblemen who appointed the sheriffs to rule the people residing in their shire or county.  If the areas belonged to the Crown, the King appointed his own sheriff, and in time, small townships developed into shires or counties.  It was that King in early England who assumed the responsibility of keeping the peace and delegating authority.  The sheriff was to execute and enforce the law.  The duties of the sheriff were to maintain law and order and to ensure community peace.  In fact today's systems of policing are a direct, yet, gradual development from the old English Law Enforcement. 

     During the 12th century period that system of police service and our system of criminal law enforcement evolved.  The Anglo-Saxon tithingman was delegated the authority of law enforcement.  Yet, instead of using the Ten Commandments, the major laws observed by the people were killing of human beings and stealing (2 out of 10).  If a member of the tithing had broken either law, all members had the duty to bring the guilty person to the shire-reeve for justice.  This method was called the "hue and cry".  This is the basis of what we call today a citizen's arrest. 

     Capital punishment was not a fundamental rule or practice as it had been in France or Spain, they did practice a cruel form of judicial punishment known as trial by ordeal.  The suspect would have to walk over hot coals in fire, immerse his or her hands in boiling water, or be bound, weighted, and thrown into a lake or river.  If the coals burned the suspect's feet, if the hands were boiled by the hot water, or if the person was drowned, that constituted guilt.  If not, the person was considered innocent.  Quite crude compared to the ancient Jewish law of Samuel of wise or Moses which denoted Judges to hear and try the case based on simple common sense.  What did make this English system significant was that all crimes were adjudicated on the basis of civil restitution, such as monetary damages for the injured person.  Thus their procedure is still used today within the American court system.

     Another brainchild of the Anglo-Saxons was the watch and ward system.  The tithingmen were responsible for maintaining the watch and ward.  The watch was the night guard, and the ward the day guard.  Anyone 16 years of age or over was subject to call by the tithingmen to serve on the watch or ward as a citizen’s duty.

     As the population increased, sheriffs were permitted to assign four to six men in each town for night watch.  These forerunners of today's patrol officer carried a lantern and a staff, similar to a flashlight and a nightstick.  As the early colonists came to America, they brought with them the English watch and ward system.



     In 1066 AD William the Conqueror invaded England and established a national government, which was opposite to the Anglo-Saxon government.  While the Saxons emphasized local home rule, the Norman's stressed national government and increased taxes and expenditures.  The sheriff became the tax collector.  Thus the Serif established the system of taxation including the recording of all taxable property owned by each person.  This record was called the Doomsday Blood.  William the Conquer required all loyal subjects to take the pledge of allegiance to the King know as the Salisbury Oath after the planes of Salisbury where it was first administered.  This is similar to our familiar pledge of allegiance to the American flag.



     King Henry added arson, murder, counterfeiting and robbery in 1116.  Since the Norman's had established a national government, the King had the first right of civil suit and damages.  This changed the local punishment to centralized autonomy by the King and eliminated the methods of trial by ordeal.  Investigators came on the scene and were chosen to investigate the crimes, determine the facts of a criminal case and were the beginning of a grand jury system.

     By 1215 a rebellious force of barons charged England's King John to relinquish absolute rule relative to crimes.  The event occurred outside of London at the Themes-side site called Runny-mede.  As we discussed earlier, the Magna Carta was signed and Democracy within Britain was born.  In 1965 a stone pedestal was built at Runnymede by the British government to memorialize John F. Kennedy as a symbol of Democracy and Freedom.



      The Statute of Westminster came into effect from 1285 to 1500.  The Westminster statute reforms provided benefit to freeholders who were allowed assistance and protection of the royal courts and royal officers to stop great lords from abusing the populace’s basic tenants.  The goal of the Westminster Period was "to make everyday life easier for all kinds of freemen by protecting them in their free tenements and defining the limits of interference with their freedom."  The Westminster period brought about other advancements in law enforcement such as the bailiff, justice of the peace and the rank of sergeant.  The chief law enforcement officer was the bailiff with duties to periodically identify all new community members.  The bailiff appointed the sergeants to assist in scrutinizing aliens, undesirables and incoming citizens.  This was quite a task, because during the evening hours large groups of citizens would crash the town gates in order to spend the evening within the protected walls of the towns.  Individuals who were sifted out and not allowed to enter and thus sleep outside the gates of the city were known as outsiders.

     Prostitution, the oldest form of trade, was designated as a business and was segregated into specific sections of the city.  These houses of ill repute were to identify it with red lanterns, red lights, or other red insignias (thus, comes the phrase “red light district”).

     The Westminster Period also produced the office of the Justice of the Peace for each shire or county.  The JOP had the power to free the accused on bail, which is where our present day bail system came from.  If a person who was arrested could not make bail, he or she would remain in jail for weeks and even months until their case came to trial.  Conversely people of well means, and criminals with plenty of booty or criminal syndicates were examples of groups who would qualify for immediate release.

     Eventually, the release of suspects from jail on their own recognizance was allowed under the jurisdiction of judges.  Probation officers were also developed during this period and they could oversee custody of one release under their own recognizance.   



     Between the 1500’s and 1700's the system of private commercial police was perfected.  Business persons unable to cope with wars and colonization, empire building and feudal lords, social unrest, the poverty stricken unemployed, poor health and welfare needs of the multitudes which over taxed the bailiffs, reeves and the watch and ward protection methods, sought out a method of private protection to cope with the sheer magnitude of crimes.  The job assignment of these private cops for hire was to protect shopkeepers, their businesses after hours, and private business property.  Unfortunately, not everyone could afford to hire the private police. 



     To meet the challenge of the increasing crime that accompanied the developing English Nation, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth Oliver Cromwell became the strongman of England.  England at that time was in a transition from a rural to an urban way of Life.  Obviously this placed a great stress on the system of policing.  Lord Cromwell placed the country under a militia or military police.  He divided England into 12 districts and appointed a provost marshal to be in charge of each district and to serve as a mediator and judge.  The provost commanded approximately 6,000 troops.  Only 200 of which were not mounted.  The provost was able to then keep both civil and military peace.  This was the origin of the mounted English Police.   



     One of the more undesirable methods of law enforcement during this period was the court of the Star Chamber.  These courts of the King allowed for brutalities such as flogging for confessions, a multitude of torture methods and the philosophy of the third degree interrogation.  It was not until 1641 that Charles I abolished the Star Chamber and evoked two significant legal guarantees of the people, which were freedom of speech and freedom from self-incrimination.  It is interesting to note that in American, in April of 1631 the City of Boston established the first system of law enforcement in America called the "night watch".  Officers served part-time, without pay.

Excessive punishment was quite common in both England and the United States during this period.  An English judge handed down the following example in 1660.  A death sentence was proclaimed upon Thomas Harrison, found guilty of participating in the killing of Charles I.

    The judgment of the court is and the court doth award, that you be led back to the place form whence you came, and from thence to be drawn upon an hurdle to the place of execution; and there you shall be hanged by the neck; and being alive shall be cut down and your privy members to be cut off, your entrails to be taken out of your body, and you, living, the same to be burnt before your eyes and your head to be cut off, your body to be divided into four quarters, and head and quarters to be disposed of at the pleasure of the King's majesty, and the lord have mercy upon your soul.



      It has already been mentioned that in April of 1631, Boston established the first system of law enforcement in America called the "night watch."  This author explained that officers often served part-time and without pay.  Because of the colonization of the East Coast of America during the 15th and 16th centuries, various types of Law Enforcement existed depending upon who's territory one lived in.  For Example, from 1500-1600 if one lived under Spanish rule, this was not a happy time for those of varying religious faiths; whereas if one lived under French or English rule, religious freedoms were maintained. However, social mores of the ruling Country dictated the limits of freedom.  Even today, when one visits the East Coast the imprint of these nations can be found.  Because England had the greatest influence on US law enforcement as practiced today, you have been studying tithing, sheriff, might watch and will continue in chronological order to study constables and so forth. 

     Thus the Boston system beginning in April of 1631 known as the night watch system was taken from the English.  In fact the night watch system was the law enforcement system in the majority of American cities until 1712.  However in rural America and many Southern districts, because agriculture in lieu of the manufacturing of the north, continued to use the English system of night watch, and the sheriff method of policing.

     It is interesting to note that although the American night watch system did not offer much in the way of reimbursement for service, the sick, the suffering, the physically disabled or mentally impaired were excused from duty and could pay qualified persons to replace their civic duties.  However it is the obvious inefficiency of such a system, which allowed for personal vendettas, civilian abuse (For part two click on the link below.) or absences without leave. 



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