State Police in the United States: A Socio-Historical Analysis

By H. Kenneth Bechtel | Go to book overview

mented with different forms of social control such as scientific management and eugenics, as well as the passage of various forms of repressive legislation, for example, immigration restriction and prohibition. Within this coercive context, reform of the police became an important issue. To gain maximum benefit from repressive laws, the machinery for enforcing them also had to be refined, specifically by wresting control of the police from the immigrant-dominated political machines. As Walker makes clear, the concept of professionalism and the drive to centralize police departments were simply additional "attempts to break the power of the lower class." 67

The creation of the state police, like other progressive reforms, was another tool for removing "the masses from politics" and satisfying leaders' desires for "rationalized and efficient" administrative agencies. 68 Couched in terms of a "modern crime problem," progressive arguments for police reform stressed that the "decentralized nature" of existing police organizations presented a "serious handicap to effective and economical" law enforcement. The idea of a state police was advanced as the best remedy for this defect as it would provide centralized and coordinated statewide police forces. 69 Rhetoric aside, the primary factors leading to the development of the state police were the increase in immigration from eastern and southern Europe and the desire to curb the growing labor movement. Along with prohibition and eugenics, centralized policing, as provided by the state police, was a product of a "social thought when challenges from below are perceived." 70

The preceding discussion was intended to flesh out the legislative outline of state police development presented in Chapter 3. The main theme of this discussion is to argue that the state police were but one of many related reforms that emerged from the progressive attempts to deal with dramatic social change. As law enforcement reform, the state police embodied many of the basic principles of progressivism: efficiency, rationality, and centralization of authority. Nevertheless, the argument remains speculative, as it needs to be substantiated by indepth study of concrete situations. Only then, by talking about real people addressing real concerns, can a human face be put on the abstract arguments. The next three chapters provide this information by presenting the results of research into the dynamics of state police development in Illinois and Colorado.


NOTES
1.
David R. Johnson, American Law Enforcement: A History ( St. Louis, MO: Forum Press, 1981), p. 25.

-62-

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State Police in the United States: A Socio-Historical Analysis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Notes 9
  • Chapter 2 What Do We Know About the State Police? 13
  • Notes 22
  • Chapter 3 State Police Development, 1835-1941 25
  • Notes 44
  • Chapter 4 - The State Police in Historical Context 49
  • Notes 62
  • Chapter 5 State Police Development in Illinois, 1917-1929 65
  • Notes 85
  • Chapter 6 the State Police Movement in Illinois 89
  • Notes 110
  • Chapter 7 Creating the State Police in Colorado 113
  • Notes 130
  • Chapter 8 Analysis of the State Police Movement 133
  • Notes 145
  • Appendix - Suggestions for Further Research on the State Police 147
  • BIBLIOGRAPHIES AND DIGESTS 148
  • GENERAL WORKS--BOOKS 149
  • GENERAL WORKS--ARITICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS 149
  • GENERAL WORKS--ARITICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS 151
  • GENERAL WORKS--ARITICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS 152
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 180
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