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Opinions Throughout History: Law Enforcement in America

Law enforcement is one of the most controversial topics of the modern age as the United States and many other nations struggle with persistent issues at the intersection of racial and social and criminal justice. This volume of Opinions Throughout History takes a look at the history and philosophy of policing in America from the vigilante slave catchers of the American South, to the first modern police departments of the Northeast, to the drug war of the 1980s and 1990s. Utilizing a selection of historic and modern documents from newspapers, academia, and politics, Opinions Throughout History: Law Enforcement in America looks at how American attitudes on police and the law have been shaped and have changed and at ideas about how American policing should evolve to reflect the changing cultural landscape of America. 

This new edition starts with a detailed Introduction that discusses the public focus on law enforcement that has been ignited by the recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of police, but that has been simmering for centuries. A broad historical overview of policing in the United States explores challenges and problems and from the viewpoint of both police and the American public. A comprehensive Timeline highlights significant events from the establishment of the first policing systems in antiquity to the part that police played in the raid on the US Capitol in 2021.

The 28 chapters cover the most significant developments in law enforcement in the United States: citizen watches in Colonial America; westward expansion and the formation of the US Marshals Service; slave patrols; police unionization and corruption; the Pinkertons and private detective agencies; the first minorities hired in law enforcement and the importance of diversity in policing; important legal cases like the Miranda decision; the militarization of police; technological advances from forensic science to body armor to digital surveillance; and civil unrest from the 1960s era, the Rodney King riots, and recent Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements. What becomes evident is that public opinion of police is intrinsically tied to how well police perform their jobs as well as to overall job satisfaction in law enforcement.

Each chapter starts with a brief Introduction, List of Topics Covered, and the source document discussed in the chapter. The body of the text discusses the document from its historical context to its relationship to public opinion. Most documents are reprinted in their entirety and clearly distinguished by a shaded title bar. In addition to helpful subtitles, photos and other images enhance the text, and sidebars provide an often lighter perspective on the time period being discussed. Pull quotes and other visual elements increase accessibility. Each chapter ends with a brief Conclusion, thoughtful Discussion Questions, and a list of Works Used. Footnotes referenced in the text begin on page 443.

The concluding chapter reflects on reform discussions and striking a balance between public safety and a community-based, less militaristic, approach to law enforcement. This volume also includes a complete list of Primary and Secondary Sources used throughout the text, a Glossary of relevant terms, a comprehensive Bibliography, and a detailed Index.

This exciting new series offers a wide range of insights into long-standing issues that Americans are most concerned about, and those that have encouraged vigorous debate among politicians and citizens at large. Using carefully chosen original documents that cover a wide time span, Opinions Throughout History weaves a thoughtful and easy-to-understand analysis of how public opinion is formed and evolves, starting the discussion at an historical, seminal moment, and ending with where we stand today.

This comprehensive, timely volume is a must for large public libraries, university libraries and social science departments, along with high school libraries.


Buyers of Opinions Throughout History: Law Enforcement in America receive FREE ONLINE ACCESS on the popular Salem Press/Grey House Platform, With unlimited users and remote access included, your students and researchers can now search this amazing collection of data, anytime & anywhere, all just a click away.

Pub. Date: May 2021
Softcover: 600 pages
ISBN: 978-1-64265-846-0
Price: $195
Includes Free Online Access on the Salem Press Platform
e-ISBN: 978-1-64265-847-7
eBook User Price: $244